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The Difference Between Whoever vs. Whomever and When to Use Them

Whoever and whomever are often used interchangeably. People mistakenly believe that whomever is more formal, when in fact, they have completely different meanings.

Beth Taylor
Beth Taylor

Whomever or whoever

Whoever and whomever are often used interchangeably. People mistakenly believe that whomever is more formal when in fact, they have completely different meanings. It’s important to know the difference and to use each one in the right context.

The difference between whoever and whomever

The key thing to remember when trying to differentiate between whoever and whomever is that one is an object pronoun, used to refer to the object of a sentence, while the other is used in reference to the subject of a sentence.

When to use whomever

Whomever is an object pronoun. The easiest way to check whether “whomever” is the appropriate word is to replace it with another object pronoun. If it can be replaced by me, him, her, us, or them, you should use whomever.

Examples:

Why don’t you ask her? - Why don’t you ask whomever is in charge?
I need to give them my report - I need to give my report to whomever collects them

When to use whoever

Contrary to whomever, whoever is a subject pronoun. The subject of the sentence is the person or thing that’s doing the action. If you can replace it with I, he, she, we, or they, then you need to use whoever.

Examples:

He is going on holiday this week, he is very lucky - Whoever is going on holiday this week is very lucky.
They broke into my house and are going to be arrested - Whoever broke into my house is going to be arrested.

One final trick that you could use when trying to figure out whether to use whomever or whoever is to swap them for “he who” or “him who” to see which sounds more natural.

Examples:

He who finds it can keep it - Whoever finds it can keep it
She was with him who you saw her with at the festival - She was with whomever you saw her with at the festival

These techniques can help you understand whoever vs. whomever. Simply see which one is correct by using a different pronoun in its place, and most times, you’ll know the answer right away.

More examples:

A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Die Hard (1988)
Unforgiven (1992)
Gone Girl (2014)
EnglishWhich is correct

Beth Taylor

Hello! My name is Beth. I'm from France. I'm a French and English native speaker and I really like writing.


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Beth Taylor

Hello! My name is Beth. I'm from France. I'm a French and English native speaker and I really like writing.