Whom vs. Whose

Whom is the objective form of who while whose is a possessive pronoun. In everyday written or spoken English, who is more often used than whom as an object pronoun because most native speakers find whom too formal or unnatural.

When to Use Whom

Who refers to the subject of a sentence or someone who does the action while whom refers to the object of a verb or a preposition. In other words, whom refers to the receiver of the action. If who can be used as an object in informal English, whom is never used as a subject.

Whom in Relative Clauses

Whom replaces the object of a verb in a relative clause. Essentially, whomis only required when there is an independent subject.

The lady whom she talked to didn’t fulfill her duty.
Object: The lady
Subject: she

I only thought of my mother, whom I’ve never seen since the pandemic started.
Object: mother
Subject: I

Jamie’s friend is the only one whom he can trust.
Object: Jamie’s friend
Subject: he

Whom as the Complement of a Preposition

Whom is commonly used with prepositions. In formal usage, whom follows the preposition and starts the clause.

It’s wise to learn about clients for whom you would be working.

More than 50 candidates participated, many of whom had shown potential.

The person to whom the singer dedicated his song was never known. 

Whom in Indirect Questions and Statements

Whom is used whenever objective pronouns such as me, us, and them are used. One method of knowing when to use whom is trying to replace it with an object pronoun and see if the statement makes sense.

Nobody knew whom the story was about.

He doesn’t ask for whom I pray.

They mentioned where they’re going and with whom

When to Use Whose

Whose has at least three functions. It can be used to ask which person a thing belongs to, show the relationship between a person and a thing, and provide additional information about a person or thing mentioned. Remember that whose and who’s are not the same. Who’s is a contraction of who is. Learn more about the difference between whose and who is.

Whose in Questions

Whose is used as a question word to ask about possession. It can be used in indirect questions too.

Whose bags are these?

Do you know whose flowers are those?

John is asking whose house is that.

Whose in Relative Clauses

Whose is used to introduce a relative clause indicating relationship or possession by people or things.

That’s the gentleman whose shoes are always shiny.

Linda has a dog whose happy disposition always makes her day.

We’re talking with the charity whose projects elicit a lot of positive response.

Whose for Adding Information

Whose is used to give additional information about a person or thing that has just been mentioned.

Mr. Steve, whose business was shut down last year, received help from the government.

The book has an illustration of a butterfly whose wings look robotic.

Miles is assessing the organization whose staff members need to take qualification tests.

Whom vs. Whose: What’s the Difference?

Whom is an object pronoun used to refer to the person who is the recipient of an action, and whose is a possessive pronoun used to indicate ownership. Both whom and whose are relative pronouns, but whom is only used to refer to people while whose can be used to refer to people, animals, and things.


Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.). Whom. In https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/whom

Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.). Whose. In https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/whose

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Whom. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/whom 

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Whose. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/whose