Winning in PTE is an art and is possible only through constant practice. Practising the right way to write and speak in English is the key to winning in PTE. All the more, using the right set of words, especially when they are confusing enough is very important not only for winning in PTE but also for setting ahead a path for improvising language skills in a person. In this endeavour, Sahasriya reaches out to its community of students and followers on a daily basis through this Interesting English series. Students in Bengaluru or Chennai-Velachery and Porur are availing this series for improving their English language skills everyday. In this note, it is about comparing ‘almost similar’ but ‘not exactly’ words of Who and Whom

A lot of people have trouble on when to use the words who and whom. Mixing these words up can be relatively easy, and, if you confuse them too frequently, it can cause your writing to look sloppy.

Now, to begin, both who and whom are pronouns, which means they are words used as substitutes for nouns. But even though they are both pronouns, they are used different in a sentence. Let’s take a look at each word.

When to Use Who

Winning in PTE Who

When do you use who? When who is used in a sentence, it takes the nominative form. That simply means that it acts as the subject of the sentence. For instance,

  • Who ate the pizza?
  • He ate the pizza.

In this example, who is acting as the subject of the sentence in the same way that he is.

When to Use Whom

When do you use whom? When whom is used in a sentence, it takes the objective form. That simply means that it acts as an object, either of a verb or preposition. For example,

  • You called whom?
  • You called him?
  • I deliver the pizza to whom?
  • I delivered the pizza to him.
Winning in PTE Whom

In both of these examples, the word whom is acting as an object.

In the first set, the word whom is acting as the object of the verb “call.” Whom did you call? I called him. It describes the person you called.

In the second set, the word whom is acting as the object of the preposition “to.” To whom did you deliver the pizza? I delivered the pizza to him. It describes the person to whom you delivered the pizza (to him).

Problem Sentences

Now, determining the case (nominative or objective) of these words can sometimes be tricky because who and whom so often find themselves in the form of a question.

This makes their true function within the sentence hard to see unless you sort the words into a standard subject-verb-object sentence. To help with this, I suggest changing sentences like the following ones into “I should say who is calling?” to make them easier.

  • Wrong: Whom should I say is calling?
  • Correct: Who should I say is calling?

By changing these sentences into the form “I should say who is calling?” you can more clearly see identify the subject, verb, and object.

Another problem that arises when determining the proper case is when the pronoun serves a function (for example, nominative) in a clause that itself serves a different function (for example, objective) in the main clause.

In situations like these, the pronoun’s function within its own clause determines its case. For example,

  • WRONG: Give it to whomever wants it.
  • CORRECT: Give it to whoever wants it.
  • WRONG: Whoever you choose is fine by me.
  • CORRECT: Whomever you choose is fine by me.

In the first example above, the entire clause “whoever wants it” is the object of the preposition “to.” But, in the clause itself, “whoever” serves as the subject, and that function determines the case.

Similarly, in the second sentence “whomever” is the object of “choose” in the clause, so it must be in the objective case even though the clause itself serves as the subject of the sentence.

Tricks to Remember

Now that you know the functions of whom vs. who within a sentence, I can show you an easy trick that can speed up the process of determining their cases.

If you still don’t know when to use who or whom, try simply substituting the words he/him in the clause where the whom or who appears. If “him” sounds better than “he” in the clause, use “whom” because “him” and “whom” both end in and “m” For our above examples,

  • Wrong: I should say him is calling.
  • Correct: I should say he is calling.

“Him” does not work in this sentence which means that “he” or “who” is the correct choice.


In short, who and whom have specific functions in a sentence, and it’s important to use each word correctly.

  • The word “who” acts as the subject of a sentence.
    • Who ate my pizza?
  • The word “whom” acts as the object of a verb or preposition.
    • Whom are you calling?
    • To whom are you talking?
  • You can substitute he/him for who/whom if you are having difficulties in determining their function within a sentence.

This daily series is an outcome of Sahasriya of the best English communication course designed to for students’ benefit. These vital tips ensures students’ aspirations of winning in PTE with Sahasriya is the most effective which is what hundreds of students benefit from everyday.

About Govind Desikan

AvatarGovind, a master of English language has taken to sharing his experience on English language and focus specifically on finer inputs on English language, IELTS and PTE exams through his posts here.

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