Whooo's ready to discuss
WHO, WHOM, WHO'S, and WHOSE? I pledge to provide some quick and easy ways to tell them apart.
Let's begin with lesser used WHOM. Think about all the times you've seen it in print: not many, I bet, since it sounds fussy and formal. Here are the most common examples:
FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS, a 1940 novel by Ernest Hemingway.
TO WHOM it may concern: (fill in the blank).
WITH WHOM AM I SPEAKING?
Technically, WHOM is always an object, never a subject. But in my book, there's an easier way to think of it. WHOM looks its formal best when introduced by FOR, TO, or WITH. And since you'd never say or write FOR WHO, TO WHO, or WITH WHO, you'll never get WHO and WHOM mixed up again.
Now to address WHO'S vs WHOSE. WHO'S is the contraction form of WHO IS, while WHOSE is the possessive form of WHO. With contractions, the component words must fit your sentence too. In other words, if WHO IS doesn't make sense, WHO'S won't either. Here are examples of each:
WHO'S knocking at my door? (Does WHO IS work in that sentence? YES!)
WHOSE bike is parked in front my car? Is it yours? Then move it already! (If the bike belongs to you, it's your possession as well as your responsibility!)
Whooo's confused now? Hopefully, none of you! But if you are, please don't hesitate to ask for clarification.
Laura Fineberg Cooper
A Spoonful of Grammar
P.S. Spoonfuls #1-#24 are summarized (with links) in Spoonful #25. I'll do another summary in Spoonful #35, and every ten posts after that.