Is the following question correct? I want this style of questioning not alternatives.

who or whom was the radio invented by? by who was the radio invented?

1 Answer 1


Whom is a word that is dying out. If you look up "by whom" in Google ngrams you will see that its use has been declining steadily since the early 19th century. If you want to use it, the correct formulation would be "by whom was the radio invented", but if you actually said those words you would risk being laughed at because they sound very old-fashioned. Being a bit old-fashioned myself I do use "to whom" occasionally as in "to whom did you give the book?", but even I would not use "by whom" other than in jest.

If you really want to know the name of the inventor, the clearest way to ask is in the active not the passive voice:"who invented the radio?"

  • so you mean: who did you give the book to? who killed bruce lee? instead of by whom was bruce lee killed (in an exam for example? ) by whom was north korea knocked down? Jan 31, 2018 at 7:54
  • "by whom was bruce lee killed" sound very awkward.
    – Drossel
    Jan 31, 2018 at 10:18
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    I don't think whom has reached the to-be-laughed-at stage yet.
    – TimR
    Jan 31, 2018 at 13:17
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    It has where I come from (Cambridgeshire, UK), I regret to say, especially when used with "by".
    – JeremyC
    Jan 31, 2018 at 13:25
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    Where I come from (Philadelphia PA) we would say Who ya goin' to the dance with? and That was said by who? But by whom is alive and well in many kinds of writing.
    – TimR
    Jan 31, 2018 at 15:04

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