I know there are numerous examples of who vs whom. But I can't find anything that really makes me feel confident in how to write this.

The sentence is

The two most important are the satisfaction level of the person whom opened the ticket and the number of days a ticket was open.

I broke it down so I could use the He/She/Him/Her test. What I came up with is

The ticket was opened by her/him.

But that doesn't really match the sentence structure at all and really just rearranges it such that I can make that particular substitution. I could, if I wanted, rearrange it as

She/he opened the ticket.

which also works but still doesn't follow the sentence structure.

I suppose the best way to really clarify it is to say

The two most important are the satisfaction level of the person by whom the ticket was opened and the number of days a ticket was open.

Is that actually the correct way or are they both correct with the latter simply being less cumbersome than the former?

  • 1
    "She/he opened the ticket" does in fact have the same structure as "who opened the ticket".
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 20:31
  • To use the he/she/him/her test correctly, you have to look at the relative clause in isolation and ignore the rest of the sentence. Also, you may have to rearrange the word order (you don't have to in this case, but in an example like "whom I told", the proper substitution is "I told him/her").
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 20:37
  • I think it's still a reasonable question (not all questions about who -vs- whom are about using it in the same position in a sentence, after all). Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 23:15

1 Answer 1


it's rather simple. who and whom open an adjective clause that describes either the object or the subject of the first main clause. if the second clause (the adjective clause, the one which is opened by who or whom) has another subject that does the verb of that clause, then you use whom. if the second clause doesn't have a new subject, that is, the one who does the action is the WH word then you use who. take a gander at these examples.

sentence A: I love a girl.

sentence B: you love that girl.

both of the sentences have the same object and two different subjects. so when put together we get a new sentence.

A+B: I love a girl whom you love.

Whom introduces the subject you of the new clause, that is, whom does not do the verb love. both sentences have the same object but different subjects. now...

sentence A: I love a girl.

sentence B: that girl loves me.

put together.

A+B: I love a girl who loves me.

Who is the subject of the second clause. there is no new subject that does the verb love. This time the object of the first sentence matches the subject(not the object) of the second sentence.

In your example, your object is the one who does the action, so you need to be using who and not whom. the person whom opened should be - the person who opened.

Now, you also have a problem with: The two most important - that's just an adjective phrase that needs a noun to describe, and also to do the verb are.

hope that helps.

  • 1
    The rule you describe in this post is certainly used by some speakers, and approximates the prescribed pattern of usage for "who" vs. "whom", but it deviates from it in cases like "The girl who I said loves you". Prescriptivists have generally called for "who" in this context, because even though the relative pronoun is not the subject of the relative clause, it is the subject of a clause embedded in the relative clause. See the following question: The use of nominative “whom”
    – herisson
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 21:36
  • Other than the fact that has been covered on ELU before, the major problem is that this prescriptively insists on prescriptive grammar. See Professor Lawler's comments here. Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 22:36
  • Professon Lawler claims the word whom is dead ? 'Basic rule: don't ever use whom (or whomever). It can be used correctly, but only in a few cases. Most people use it wrong, and it's never required. So forget about it. It's as dead as thou, thee, thy, thine, hath, doth, and goeth, which most people also use infrequently and almost always incorrectly.' Commented Feb 15, 2018 at 19:38

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