Take the sentence:

Who is the right person to turn to?

I'm not sure whether who or whom should be used in this position.

  • For some reason, you questions causes reruns of Abbott and Costello’s famously hilarious Who’s on First? skit to run through my mind.
    – tchrist
    Apr 16, 2013 at 3:50

4 Answers 4


Here is the easy way to figure out which one is correct. If you answer the question (or substitute the statement) with 'he' and it makes sense, use 'who.' If 'him' makes sense, use 'whom.' 'Whom' and 'him' both have the letter m so that is how to remember that they go together.

"Whom did you ask?" "I asked him."

"Who answered the question?" "He answered the question."

"Whom is the right person to turn to?" "Him is the right person to turn to." => INCORRECT

"Who is the right person to turn to." "He is the right person to turn to." => CORRECT

  • Really? How will that distinguish 'Who did you ask? I asked him' please? May 8, 2017 at 13:59
  • Coo! Which helpful people gave me two downpoints for asking that? Could someone explain how Miss Ti's rules cope with Who did you ask? I asked him please? May 8, 2017 at 18:00

Sure, it's fine.

In fact,
Whom is the right person to turn to?
sounds downright silly, and
To whom is the right person to turn?
is even sillier, if possible.
No native English speaker would ever say either one, at least not in the USA.

The best advice about the use of whom is

Don't bother to use whom. Ever, at all.
Whom is dead. It's an ex-pronoun. It's joined the bleedin' choir invisible.

  • 3
    Using who for whom never bothered anyone (well, I hope) but the reverse is pretentiously hypercorrective — and therefore annoying in the extreme. Considering that not even published authors and professional editors seem to manage to reliably and correctly select one over the other, it seems best to avoid whom altogether. If I read one more “tell whomever is going” or “it’s from whomever figured it out first”, I think I’m going to scream. Better by far that it be altogether banished than that it be used willy nilly with neither sense nor meaning, nor distinction.
    – tchrist
    Apr 16, 2013 at 3:37
  • 2
    I always suspected "Lawler" was a pseudonym for "Cleese." Now I'm sure! Apr 16, 2013 at 7:53
  • 2
    It is true that, in questions, who is killing off whom in everyday conversation. But who cannot replace whom in the sentences such as the following: The school has 50 teachers, most of whom are bilingual. And whom cannot be replaced by who in relative clauses starting with a preposition: He is someone for whom I have great admiration.
    – Shoe
    Jun 19, 2013 at 20:36
  • 2
    The school has 50 teachers, most of who are bilingual. He is someone who I have great admiration for. Perhaps not standard English, but you can substitute whom quite easily with who and still be understood.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 19, 2013 at 23:04
  • 2
    -1 terrible answer. Oversimplification of the language is not a good thing and can lead to ambiguities.
    – Jez
    Jun 20, 2013 at 15:01

I agree with the previous answers in that "whom" is mostly being phased out of regular usage, so I would go with using "who" in this type of sentence. Some further support for "who" over "whom" here is that you are using "who" as a subject (and "whom" is only objective). Here, as in many instances, "is" is a linking verb; it links the description ("the right person to talk to") to the subject ("who"), meaning that both parts, basically, serve the same grammatical function.

For example, if I were to say "I am Michelle," then "I" and "Michelle" are equivalent. The reason your example is a little trickier is due mostly to the fact that we switch word order around in sentence structure, and that's enough to throw anybody off!


To whom should I turn?

Ex-pronoun, indeed. :)

  • 1
    *Whom should I turn to?" is formal. "Who should I turn to?" is normal. But "To whom should I turn?" is unnatural in the extreme. People do not really talk that way.
    – tchrist
    Apr 16, 2013 at 14:56
  • 3
    'To who it may concern'? Apr 16, 2013 at 22:50
  • "Whom should I turn to?" is not formal; it is incorrect. "To" is a preposition and therefore cannot end the sentence. Mar 26, 2014 at 23:03

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.