I read this sentence:

"One of the women whom dislikes me made it"

I was wondering whether 'whom' is the right word in the sentence above or it should have been "who". I think "who" is the right one. Am I wrong?


The sentence should read

One of the women who dislikes me made it.

but before I go any further, I should note that the usage of whom has been in steady decline for some time, and especially in conversational English, who is the expected form everywhere. When in doubt, simply use who; only the more persnickety prescriptivists will object.

Who is the nominative case form and whom is the objective (accusative) case form. A very basic "ear test" is to separate out the clause on its own and replace who with he or she, and whom with him or her. We would say she dislikes me not her dislikes me, and so whom is improper here.

The grammatical reason why who is correct is that it is the subject of the clause, and therefore must be in the nominative case. Substituting whom for who is a very common hypercorrection even among native speakers, but has no justification.

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  • Yes, I know that whom is 'dying' and, as you said, 'who' is the expected form everywhere, but considering that the sentence above comes from an English mother tongue I needed to get a confirmation. I think he could also have written "One of the women that dislikes me made it". – jeysmith Oct 31 '13 at 22:50
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    This post on Language Log by Arnold Zwicky is worth reading. Among other things, it covers some of the cases (ahem) where who/whom don't line up with he/him, she/her, etc. – snailplane Nov 1 '13 at 9:04
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    "hypercorrection" Like those who think they're being correct when they use "I" in the object instead of "me", like, "He gave the book to Bill and I." Exactly the same case: "who" and "I" are for subjects; "whom" and "me" for objects. – Jay Nov 1 '13 at 19:19
  • @Jay I'm afraid it's not actually the same. Neither Bill nor I is an object; the coordination of the two is an object. This matters because the rules for pronouns in coordination in some cases are different than the rules for pronouns used as subjects or objects, so an argument by analogy to non-coordinated objects isn't logically sound. On top of that, who and whom don't have the same distribution as I and me, so the analogy wouldn't hold even if the above were false. – snailplane Nov 2 '13 at 12:00
  • @snailboat Hmm, can you give an example where a word that when used as an object by itself takes one form, but when used in combination with another word takes a different form? – Jay Nov 4 '13 at 14:57

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