He hit his mother, grandmother and sister.

I asked him,

"Who did you hit?"

I want to know who did he hit. Does it sound natural?

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    – user3395
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 12:57
  • I'd say "Whom did you hit." Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 12:59
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    Ignore the standard rule about If a possible answer is him, use whom; if it's he, use who. Only a pedant would use whom in your context. We rarely use whom in normal conversational contexts today unless it's strongly supported by an adjacent preposition, as in To whom am I speaking? And even there, most people would move the preposition further away and settle on Who am I speaking to? Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 13:01
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    @SovereignSun That's strictly grammatical, but it's rather odd in casual conversations. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 13:04
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    @user178049: Arguably the more appropriate rule for most learners in most contexts would be Don't use 'whom' full stop! Off hand, the only place where you're likely to have even a "reasonable excuse" for using whom is after to, but even there I doubt many native speakers would think anything of it if you stuck to who throughout. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 13:39

1 Answer 1


Although "Whom did you hit?" is correct, it is considered formal English and is used less often then "Who did you hit?" which is considered to also be correct in standard English.

However, here's the grammar: "GrammarBook.com"

Rule. Use this he/him method to decide whether who or whom is correct:

  • Who should be used to refer to the subject of a sentence.
  • Whom should be used to refer to the object of a verb or preposition.

Many people don’t use whom in casual speech or writing. Others use it only in well-established phrases such as “to whom it may concern.” Some people never use it. It’s not unusual at all to hear sentences like these (www.grammarly.com):

  • Who do you believe?
  • Who should I talk to about labeling food in the refrigerator?

In modern usage whom is often dropped in favor of who. It is not difficult to find many examples and hear English like this:

  • Who did they meet?
  • Who did he give it to?
  • Who do you love?

Although some traditional grammarians will point these out as mistakes they are in such common usage that they could almost be classed as correct, standard English now. This has led to a generally perceived notion that whom is more formal and educated than who. (www.icaltefl.com)


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    Did you mean to say: Your sentence "Who did you hit?" is correct. However, "Whom did you hit?" is also possible.? Because, well, whom would be unnatural and stilted in the presumed context, and that's not their sentence.
    – user3395
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 14:43
  • Let's stick to grammar books. "Who did you hit?" is possible and accepted in standard English, but as I said in my answer "Whom did you hit?" is grammatically correct in traditional English and shows that you are an educated person. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 14:50
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    Let's not stick to antiquated grammar books because they're just that – outdated. It's not about showing you're educated in this case, it's a matter of register. Whom is not at all used in an informal register, except for a couple of fixed phrases and when whom is the object of a fronted preposition – and even then no one will object (get it) to your use of who. Read more about this in this answer by snailplane, and, please, refrain from spreading this whom nonsense. Whom sounds pompous and out-of-place in a normal conversation.
    – user3395
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 15:05
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    -1 for "let's stick to grammar books". I don't mind if we discuss what the grammar books say as a footnote, but as others have tried to insist, using whom in this phrase is going to make you sound like a pompous ass, not an educated scholar.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 19:01
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    Just to be clear, I'm not advising you to speak in an uneducated fashion. There is something to be said for following grammatical rules and not writing as though you are barely literate. I often exhort people on ELL to use proper English, such as when they write "i" instead of "I", or "dont" instead of "don't". So don't get me wrong – I commend you for wanting to speak and write well. But part of being educated is knowing when the grammar books dispense good advice, and when they are giving you dated advice that can be safely ignored.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 18:05

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