Recently I wrote a couple of posts about the Apostrophe Protection Society. I’m thinking of starting my own organization, tentatively called the “Down with Whom and Whomever Club.” Our charter will state two foundational principles:
- Whom and whomever don’t add anything useful to a sentence
- If you come across whom or whomever in a sentence, they’re probably wrong – even if the author is a professional writer
Here’s an example from my files. This is from an article about a teacher who was stealing from students’ lockers:
The student placed his black Samsung slider cell phone in an empty locker inside the boys’ locker room to catch whomever might be stealing the money.
It should have read “whoever might be stealing the money.” Here’s how you figure it out: “he was stealing the money” – “whoever might be stealing the money. When in doubt, substitute he for who and him for whom. It sounds like “Tea for Two,” doesn’t it?
He for who
And him for whom
Give the book to whoever wants it. CORRECT (“he wants it” – “who wants it”)
Give the book to whomever you like. CORRECT (“you like him” – “you like whomever”)
You can feel that m (him, whom) in your mouth. But why are we fussing with this? Just use who and whoever. So simple!