Whilst in most cases, I'm clear using who or whom but this is one of the sentences bothering me!

Whom/who did she invite?

Whom did she invite looks very very natural to me. The general rule (this will work in most of the cases, no exceptions please!) I remember is... be yourself in that situation, and if 'I' fits, it'll be 'who' and if 'me' fits, it'll be 'whom'.

Some examples where this rule works as a breakthrough...

Whom this matter is concerned to? - The matter is concerned to me and not I so whom!
Our madam wondered who broke the glass - I broke the glass and not me so who!

That way, She invited me and not I so it should be - whom did she invite, shouldn't it? Also, if you take it other way - She invited him and not he.

  • 4
    Both are OK. In the old times, "whom" is the only answer -- but people don't often follow that pedantic rule now. Only when a preposition is placed before it, e.g. "to whom", "for whom", you have to use "whom", otherwise both are acceptable. <- I'm not a native speaker, but that's what I see these years.
    – Stan
    Mar 4, 2014 at 13:28
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    agreed. I think "whom" is really unfair to non-native speakers. If you put "who" in a cover letter you risk that the reader is some grammar fiend who will think you don't know English well. If you put "whom" you risk that the reader herself doesn't know the "correct" rule and thinks you are a bad writer. tbh I doubt that in speech even the Queen of England would put a "whom" here, but it is "correct."
    – hunter
    Mar 4, 2014 at 13:35
  • I actually totally agree. In spite of my answer explaining the rule, I think you should generally forego "whom". Most people don't notice, but they may see it as over-formality if you use it and count it against you if you use it incorrectly. Mar 5, 2014 at 9:56

4 Answers 4


"Whom did she invite?" is grammatically correct, for the reasons you have explained. As Stan and Hunter have explained, this rule is often broken, especially in conversation.

Personally, I cleverly evade the issue in conversation by saying "Who'd she invite?" If a "grammar fiend" (thanks Hunter) attempted to correct me, I would explain to said grammar fiend that "who'd" is a contraction of either "whom did" or "who did" depending on context, and invite him to prove otherwise. I would then walk away and talk to someone else. :)

One more thing. Rather than as you have it, correct is "Whom does this matter concern? It concerns me." Whether a verb can function as transitive or not can be pretty arbitrary in English. If you look up "concern" here: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/concern you will see that this one is transitive.


I definitely use "whom" in questions such as "Whom did you invite?" and "Whom was the bottle meant for?" If I hear "who..." and it is accusative, I have to "translate" to understand it. On the other hand, I just got a mass e-mail from one of the major British EFL/ESL/English for natives publishers (which one it was escapes me, and I erased it already) in which it was stated that "Whom" at the beginning of a sentence is always wrong. I'll accept that most people - and maybe virtually all Brits - don't use that formulation, but it's going too far to call it wrong! (And in other questions the company did note American variants, so that shouldn't be the issue here.)


Who vs Whom is really a Subject vs Object question.

You use "who" when you are talking about the subject, and you use "whom" when you are talking about the object. A good rule of thumb is if you can replace "who/whom" with "he", then it's the subject, and if you can replace it with "him" then it's the object.

Subjects and Objects (a quick refresher)

When you say "He threw the ball to her", "he" is the subject--the one doing the action--, while "her" is the object: the one receiving the action. So then you could ask:

"He threw the ball to whom?" 


"Whom did he throw the ball to?"

or, conversely:

"Who threw the ball to her?"

It turns out that "Whom did she invite?" is correct because it can be rephrased like this: "She invited whom?" The rephrasing should make it more clear how the "whom" in question is the object receiving the action. In this new phrasing you could even use your me/I rule.

Side Note: This rule is difficult for most Americans to remember and so they often "play it safe" and just use "who" everywhere

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    I am already clear using who/whom but this question brings a doubt. Who did she invite is absolutely okay! Check this - The Queen of England celebrated her sixtieth anniversary on the throne. Who did she invite to her party? Who did she invite to her banquet? Sitting close to the quene is an honor. Who did she invite?
    – Maulik V
    Mar 5, 2014 at 9:47
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    @MaulikV Whom is required there in very formal style. We don't speak that formally most of the time, though, so who is usually fine (and indeed preferable).
    – user230
    Mar 5, 2014 at 9:51
  • As my final note explains, most Americans (and apparently Brits, as well, by your evidence) forego the use of "whom" entirely. But if you're going to do that, then why even ask the question? So I explained how you could more easily rearrange the wording of a question to use the rule you originally tried to apply. The Queen of England is not the final authority of the English language. Technically "Who did she invite?" is debatebly correct. Regardless, "whom" is nearly archaic and I don't use it myself very often, if ever. Mar 5, 2014 at 9:54
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    I was going to say that this isn't restricted to Americans in my experience; the British do it as well. What Americans do not have, however, is British schoolmasters telling one on a regular basis that one is a "stupid clot of a boy whose inattention to his subjects guarantees that he will never amount to anything worthwhile" (to pick one of the more colorful ratings shared with me in my two years' experience in the British school system) for using "who" instead of "whom". So one might argue that the use of whom is a bit more widespread in Britain, especially in the "RP" set.
    – BobRodes
    Mar 10, 2014 at 15:17

The American convention on Who/Whom usage is blurred, as evidenced by the following CNN headline on Jan. 24, 2018:

WaPo: Trump asked FBI boss who he voted for CNN · 1 hour ago

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