Whoever or Whomever?

If you’ve encountered the word whomever recently, I’d give you better than even odds that it’s been used incorrectly. Here’s an example of the kind of mistake I hear (or read) all the time:

Give the money to whomever needs it.

I would argue that the sentence should read:

 Give the money to whoever needs it.

But some people think whomever is more elegant, and they overuse it.

How can we solve this problem? First, let’s get who and whom straight. Who is like he; whom is like him. So far, so good.

But now we’re stuck between two choices:

1.  Give the money to him. Give the money to whom. Give the money to whomever. Give the money to whomever needs it. (This is what many people would do with the sentence.)

OR…

2.  He needs it. Who needs it. Give the money to whoever needs it. (This is my choice.)

So how do you know which is right? You reword the sentence and try our who = he and whom = him strategy again.

Let’s go:

Give the money to the person who needs it.

You wouldn’t say “him needs it.” So who and whoever are correct:

Give the money to whoever needs it.

Whom and whomever are disappearing – and I (for one) am thrilled. Whom doesn’t add anything useful to a sentence. It wastes time and confuses people. Who needs it? (Ha!)

whom

                                        Who?

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