Whose and whom: what’s the difference?

Whose and whom: what’s the difference?


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WHOSE

Whose is the genitive of who. It shows a relationship of belonging. Whose is used in different ways:
1 – As an interrogative word, to ask who owns something:
  • Whose book is on my bed? 
  • Whose umbrella is that? 
  • Whose pen is it? 
2 – As a relative pronoun, in sentences where the relative subordinate expresses possession. It is always followed by a noun:
  • That’s the boy whose bike is broken. 
  • This is Mrs Smith, whose husband died recently. 
  • Paul works with that other guy whose name I can’t remember. 

⚠ The noun that follows whose is never preceded by a determinant:

  • This is the boy whose the sister is my friend. 
  • Whose the bike is broken? Is it Tom’s bike or is it your bike? 

⚠ Whose should not be confused with who’s (which means ‘who is‘). Who’s is used to ask about identity, not possession:

  • Who’s that girl? 
  • Whose sister is she? 

WHOM

Whom is also an interrogative pronoun, but it is used instead to replace the subject of a question (it is mainly used in formal English):

  • Whom is this book about? 
  • Whom did Paul hired? 

Whom is also used in statements instead of the subject of a clause. We say, for example:

  • This is my friend whom I just told you about. 
  • She’s calling the friend with whom she is living. 

⚠ If the antecedent is not human, you have to use which:

  • This is the house which I bought. 

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