For two years, Margaret attended my writing classes. She always sat near the front, and she always took copious notes. No, she never wrote a word for publication. She was too busy making a list of any and all mistakes I made in my presentation and discussion. Her favorite comment was, “You misused whom again!” Margaret, are you out there? This column is for you.
As my linguist son reminds me, language is always evolving. And now, according to Hallmark, whom is on the fast track out. As in no longer necessary. Caput. On October 20, the Hallmark Channel will premiere the movie “I Married Who?” Yep, it does sound a bit stilted, but what about “I Married Whom?”
Undoubtedly, some people will be sorry to see whom go, but most of us won’t miss it one bit. Not even we word people. I mean, has anyone ever texted “She is the one to whom I gave the check”? Not only does it sound terribly stuffy and affected, but it would undoubtedly cause thumb cramps.
Anyway, fewer and fewer people have any idea of when to use whom. Here’s the rule:
Use “who” for the subject of a sentence or a clause; that is, the one “who” takes the action (“Who drives you crazy?”)
Use whom when it is the object of a sentence or clause; that is, the one who receives the action (“Whom do you drive crazy?”)
Got that? No?
Then yay for Hallmark. But do watch out for Margaret!
“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”