May 21

Who cares how to use whom correctly?!

    I’m a writing coach. I’m an editor. I love grammar. I get questions all the time about how to use whom correctly.*

    But, I have to be honest, I hate the word “whom.”

    It just sounds so danged snooty, doesn’t it? Can you imagine ever uttering these questions in real life?

    “To whom have you given your copy of Jodi Picoult’s latest book?”

    “Is there anyone with whom you’d like to share this hamburger?”

    There’s just no way, in normal conversation, that we would ever use the word “whom.” We would shamelessly end the sentence in a preposition and move on with our lives.

    I’ll admit it, I’m an advocate of ditching “whom” entirely and allowing writers all over the world to promiscuously end their sentences in any kind of preposition they want, so long as they do so with intention and style.

    “Who did you loan that book to?”

    “Who would you like to share that hamburger with?”

    Those are not atrocious sentences. They’re concise and practical. Not beautiful, fine, but at least they sound like something an actual person would say.

    I understand that writing is not supposed to sound exactly like conversation, but it should sound fluid and familiar to the ear. If the reader has to stop and reorganize a sentence in order to fully understand it, I’d say the writer could stand to organize the sentence a bit better from the get-go.

    Okay, end rant.

    This is possibly my shortest blog post ever, haha.

    What do you think? Are you a fan of “whom?” Or a hater? Or a neutral spectator who just tries really hard not to put yourself in a situation where you’d have to choose between using “whom” incorrectly (and sounding dumb) or using “whom” correctly (and sounding arrogant)?

    *Yes, I know, it's happened again. I should have “whom” in quotation marks here, but when people Google things, they're much more likely to type in “how to use whom” than “how to use ‘whom.'” It's tough being a grammar freak and owning an Internet/Google-based business.


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