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

he = who
him = whom

Who/Whom wrote the letter?
He wrote the letter. Therefore, who is correct.

Who/Whom should I vote for?
Should I vote for him? Therefore, whom is correct.

I understand the rule and can apply it, but I'm not efficient in applying it time-wise. This clearly shows in speech with a live person or a group.

For example, in speech I want to say:

The doctor whom you recommended is not available for three months.

But it goes something like this:

Speak: The doctor ...
start of the 10 second pause
Mental step 1: "he you recommended"
Mental step 2: "you recommended he"
Mental step 3: "you recommended him"
Mental step 4: him = whom
end of the 10 second pause
Speak: ... whom you recommended is not available for three months.

It's really awkward. Is there a faster way to identify whether to use who or whom?

  • 1
    If you really want to be fast, just use who all the time. That is what most Americans do anyway, to be honest.
    – stangdon
    Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 20:56
  • 1
    @stangdon - That's true, but in the example sentence, we don't need either word: The doctor you recommended is not available for three months.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 21:19
  • Not just Americans – most native speakers of English. I'm not sure why you're trying to force yourself to use a form that's in no way more correct than who, and risk sounding pompous. The only time it makes sense to use whom in conversational English is after a preposition (see the examples here) where it sounds OK (and where it's the only grammatical option). Note that that doesn't mean you should force the preposition to the beginning of the clause just so that you could use a whom (in informal style).
    – user3395
    Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 21:22
  • @userr2684291 I'm following this guide which makes a clear distinction on when to use who/whom. grammarbook.com/grammar/whoVwhom.asp. Before James's answer, i wasn't aware that spoken language is less strict on that part.
    – AlanWakeUp
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 10:21
  • 1
    The he/him method doesn't give you the right answer, so if it's slowing you down you might as well forget about it entirely. Just learn when who and whom are possible and when they're appropriate.
    – user230
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


In modern standard spoken English, "who" is acceptable as both a subject and object pronoun.

Who wrote the letter?

Who should I vote for?

The doctor who you recommended won't be available for three months.

These are both acceptable and correct. (Other ways may also be correct)

It is quite common to use "whom" when it follows a preposition:

To whom should the letter be sent?

In written English, you can be rather more formal and use "whom" for the object pronoun. There is no difficulty in applying the "he/him" rule when writing formally, as you can pause and think about it.


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