JS Tip 236: From the Writing Workshops: “Whoever” and “Whomever”

A couple of weeks ago, we explored “who” and “whom.”

Kip Howell of Zions Bank followed up with a question: “When do we use “whomever” and “whoever”?

It's a little more complicated, but we're still talking about subjects and objects. 

We take the process one step further. Two things are usually going on in a whoever/whomever sentence. Break the discussion into those two sentences (those two clauses).

Play the substitution game: substitute “he” or “him” for “whoever” or “whomever.” Examine the substitutions. 

         We'll write the check to whoever/whomever signs the contract.

                  Break it into two sentences. Substitute “he” or “him.”  

         [One] We'll write the check to him. [Two] He signs the contract.  

                  Combinations of ”him” and “he” take whoever

         We'll write the check to whoever signs the contract.

Okay. That sounds good.

But . . .

         We'll write the check to whoever/whomever you suggest. 

                  Break it into two sentences. 

         [One] We'll write the check to him. [Two] You suggest him. (Not “You suggest he.”)

                  Combinations of “him” and “him” take whomever

         We'll write the check to whomever you suggest.

Language is cool. We love this stuff. Any questions, let us know.