Whomever vs whoever is a common debate and most people often use the words wrong. We might not entirely blame most people because these words are often confusing. Even students and graduates of the English language mistakenly think that the words are interchangeable, but this assertion is incorrect.
These two words are among those In the English that many use wrong and abuse all the time. It seems to be a struggle for a lot of people, even the most educated among us.
When reviewing whomever vs whoever, they may look similar in meaning and usage. Even though both of them are pronouns they can’t function interchangeably. When trying to use either of these in a sentence, one needs some knowledge of English grammar. So, deciding to use either of them mainly depends on its placement in a given sentence.
It is pertinent that we all understand the fact that there’s an underlying rule governing the proper use of these words. It is high time everyone puts the struggle to rest by learning how to choose the right word between the two, and to use them correctly in a sentence.
The Difference Between Whomever vs Whoever
Whomever is a pronoun made up of whom, and ever. You should mostly use this as an object of a verb, or whoever. It a pronoun that describes someone that receives an action. This is to say that you only use whomever with a preposition such as like, to, for, about – or “about” with a verb that will need a direct object. For example:
- He played his music for whomever.
The use of the preposition ‘for’ in this sentence shows that whomever is a suitable word to use in the sentence. Whomever is always in use when something is acted upon. So, whomever is an object pronoun. It still functions the same way as them, us, her, me, him – these are object pronouns as well.
Whomever can also serve as the direct object of a verb. So, whomever can be a word that receives the action of the verb or the purpose of a preposition. Whereas whoever is a word or pronoun that is made up of who and ever. You should use this mainly for a person or persons. Whoever is a subjective pronoun as whomever is an objective pronoun.
We can use whoever to describe an unknown person that acted. So, whoever is a subject pronoun. Other pronouns which include he, she, and they. This subject pronoun refers to the person that is functioning as a verb. For example:
- Whoever we choose will only lead for 4-5 years.
These two pronouns – whomever vs whoever – are interrogative pronouns that deal with people.
Whomever vs Whoever: How to use Them
We should always use whoever as a subject pronoun. This simply means the subject or the actor in a sentence – a person that is performing the main action. This makes it work like any other subject pronoun, and so one can easily use whoever where she, I, he or they would have been used. Always remember: whoever is used when someone acts, not when they are acted upon. Examples are:
- Whoever finishes the food first will have a drink.
- Whoever needs a ride just quickly join me.
- The prize is given to whoever is the winner of this contest.
- Whoever needs to know the heart of a friend should study psychology.
- Keep the bucket of water for whoever owns it.
You can also use whoever as a linking verb:
- She said whoever doesn’t dress will not attend the party.
- Whoever leaves without a shoe will have to remain out.
Whomever can be used as an object of a verb and can be used in place of other pronouns such as me, whom, him, her, or them. Whomever addresses the object of a sentence. It is all about the target or recipient of the action in a sentence. Always remember that whomever is acted upon. Examples using whomever are:
- “Give it to him” can also be written as “give it to whomever.”
- “The prize should be given to them” can be written as “let the award be given to whomever.”
- She gave the book to whomever lived down the road.
- But the teacher has the right to question whomever we choose.
- Whomever the priest hires must bring in a suitable mass server to arrange the altar.
Whomever vs Whoever – How to Pick the Right One
There are simple and easy ways to know which of whomever vs whoever is correct. When choosing which one to use, it is important to understand how they function in a sentence. use the following tricks:
He and Him Rule:
The word “whomever” follows the “he or him” rule. So, when a question needs the “him” response, then you should use whomever and that will be correct.
- if I write “she loves to play music for him”, this can also be written as “she likes to play music for whomever.” Whoever is not correct here.
So, whomever is used when a sentence need him while whoever is used when a sentence needs a he.
The “M” Trick:
This is a trick that you can use to know which of whomever vs whoever to use in a sentence. It has to do with the fact that whom, him, and whomever have the letter m in them. So, when there’s a question you can answer with “him” in the sentence, then whomever should be used. But, if it has “he” then you should use whoever. You can differentiate easily by paying attention to the “m.”
Like if he or him need to replace whomever in this sentence:
- “She washes clothes for whomever” can’t be replaced with “she washes clothes for he.” but rather, it would need to be “him.” This how the “M “trick works.
The Giver and Receiver Trick:
Since the two pronouns deal with an unknown person, one of these gives while the other takes. So, whoever answers the question “who did this?” This is giving an action, while whomever answers the question “to whom was it done?” To know the right word to use, a question can be rephrased to know the giver and the receiver. This will make the correct word obvious.
Whomever vs Whoever: Agreement With a Verb
Whomever and whoever should be used when there’s agreement with a dependent clause – not the rest of the sentence.
For example: “he will give water to whomever needs the water most.” Looking at this sentence, whomever agrees with the verb in the dependent clause “needs the water most.” If the entire clause that contains either whoever or whomever is the subject of the verb that follows the clause, then it must agree with that verb.
- “Whoever left the car open must lock it.” In this sentence, “whoever left the car open” is the subject and “must” is the verb it agrees with.
This is mostly used with “whomever,” like in this example:
- I want him to do the chores.
Looking at these sentences, the first one is more correct, and whomever is an appropriate substitute: “I want whomever to do the chores”. So, in a sentence like this, knowing him goes with whomever, one can quickly know to use whomever. It becomes easy now to substitute a pronoun for another pronoun. When deciding which one to use, always try to replace another pronoun, such as he or him – this will help in knowing the correct word to pick.
Other Pronouns and Whomever vs Whoever
The use of other pronouns is what easily enables one to know which one of whomever vs whoever to use in a sentence. The best bet is first to get familiar with the other subject/object pronouns to be able to know which of whomever and whoever is appropriate. The rule in grammar regarding these two pronouns is whoever and who go with he or she, while whomever and whom go with him or her. For example:
- “Give the tissue to he” or “give the tissue to him.” Of course, “give the tissue to him “is correct.
Looking at the rule of grammar “him” goes with “whomever”, so whomever can rightly replace him, and the sentence will make sense:
- “Give the tissue to whomever.” This works because they are both pronouns.
Deal with the Whomever vs Whoever Difficulty
Not all sentences will be this easy, but we should still try and properly determine which of the words to use. Something like this, for example, might not work as effectively:
- “Report the case to whomever you find at the police station”, rephrasing this and replacing with other pronouns like this:
- “Report the incident to him you can find at the police station” This doesn’t even sound right.
In this case, the sentence can be simplified by removing extra information, such as the modifier. you can remove “at the police station” and the sentence will become simpler. We can add the modifier later.
So, the simplified one will be:
- “Report the case to him.”
Correctly replacing “him” with “whomever” – because they go together”, it will now be like this:
- Report the case to whomever you can find at the police station.
If you are still in doubt of which to use after simplifying the sentence, try using the rule of sticking with the subject of the verb
- Whoever eats here will need to sweep when done.
The use of whomever vs whoever, and even trying to differentiate them, can be daunting and tedious sometimes. If you writing whether that’s copy for an Instagram agency or a job description for hiring SEO consultants, this is important knowledge to get your point across effectively.
One practicing English professor actually feels that “whomever” should be removed from the English language unless a preposition follows it. However, since this was not done, we must continue to learn its proper usage. It isn’t only a present problem, being able to use these two pronouns correctly has always been a difficult task. But, by using the above-listed tricks, you may find it a little easier.