Here’s a quick writing tip to help you confidently know when to use who or whom. This post was inspired from watching the extensive news coverage of the US election.
Australia’s Foreign minister Julie Bishop said words to the effect that:
Australia will be able to work with WHOMEVER becomes US president.
Several news reporters used: WHOEVER becomes US president
WHOMEVER in this case is technically correct – however in Broadcast journalism there is a trend towards the more casual and conversational WHOEVER.
Here is an easy technique you can apply to help you know when to use WHOMEVER and when to use WHOEVER.
HIM for WHOM (both end in an M)
HE for WHO.
If you would say HIM – then it’s WHOMEVER.
If you would say HE – then it’s WHOEVER.
Let’s try it:
What sounds correct?
Australia will be able to work with HIM – or
Australia will be able to work with HE.
It’s HIM – so WHOMEVER is technically correct.
Let’s try it with a Shakespearean example:
Should it be HE knocks or HIM knocks?
It’s HE knocks – so WHOEVER is technically correct.
When writing for a broadcast audience – the more casual and conversational WHOEVER is appropriate – rather than trying to be technically correct. In a future post, I’ll share tips on how to avoid WHO/WHOM altogether.
I have scores of these easy-to-use writing ‘tricks’ for WHOMEVER wants to improve their writing.
Hi, if you are interesting in writing – you’ll probably enjoy this blog. I’m a self-confessed and proud word nerd and big fan of Shakespeare – and other writers such as Hemingway.
I share my media experience (as a reporter/producer/ Deputy News Director/sub etc.) as a writing coach and trainer to news organisations.
One of the most satisfying parts of my recent job as a Deputy News Director at a major commercial TV network in Australia was helping younger writers.
I understand that the name Bard of Breaking News can seem outrageously arrogant – yet I strategically use it for ‘memorable branding’ and for the comic effect of the outrageous link and contrast between the lasting and deep grandeur or Shakespeare’s writing and the disposable speed of modern breaking news.
I do firmly believe that we can all learn from Shakespeare’s techniques to improve our writing – whether it’s for business or political speeches or even writing breaking news.