I know that 'whom' can be the object of a preposition, but since 'whom' is an object pronoun, and since only transitive verbs can receive an object(s) --- if this is wrong I'd appreciate it if you'd forgive me and correct me as I'm a learner of English --- is it correct that 'whom' and 'whomever' should only ever be used when one uses a transitive verb --- as only transitive verbs can receive an action(s)?

Additionally, is the converse true for 'who' and 'whoever' --- that is, that one is only ever to use the subject pronouns 'who' and 'whoever' when one uses an intransitive verb because intransitive verbs, though they perform actions, have no direct and or indirect object(s) like transitive verbs do?

Last thing: are actions and objects the same thing? If not could you please explain why; if so could you also please explain why?

Thanks in advance to everyone!

  • Ah, now I'm confused about everything again. I struggle with inserting the correct pronouns like the one's about which I asked in my post in the right place when I have to determine which pronoun to use based off of the placement of particular words in a sentence :/ As for the confusion on your part which relates to the object and action difference I'll see if I can explain... I just wanted to know whether an object and an action are the same thing. I hope I've put myself over correctly. Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 13:46
  • What matters is not just what sort of verb is "used," but where it is used. "I would happily ask whoever shows up, but I will ask whomever you designate as responder." I don't understand your question about the difference between an action and an object. Eating in an action and food is an object. In what less obvious context are you seeking a difference?
    – remarkl
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 14:24

2 Answers 2


Yes. Only transitive verbs take a direct object. So you would use those pronouns this way:

Whom did you nominate for mayor? Hughes?
Yes, I nominated him.

An intransitive verb like sleep wouldn't work

You slept him? [wrong]
You slept whom? [wrong]

Note that some intransitive verbs can be used transitively. In the above case, sleep could be used that way informally or as part of technical jargon ("this cabin sleeps six"), but that is not a normal usage.

  • Ah, thank you very much. So just to clarify, my understanding of the use of 'who', 'whoever', 'whom' and 'whomever' and transitive and intransitive verbs is correct? Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 13:39
  • Sorry I forgot insert this into the post which I just posted: you said that transitive verbs take direct objects; what about indirect objects? Do transitive verbs take indirect objects as well or just direct objects? Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 13:40
  • 1
    The definition of a transitive verb is that it takes an object; an intransitive verb takes no object.
    – Robusto
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 13:43
  • So any object? Whether direct or indirect? Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 13:47
  • 1
    A verb doesn't really ever take an indirect object, though it can set one up.
    – Robusto
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 14:37

For the poster: I would take a simple step back. Basic rules:

'who', 'whoever', 'whom' and 'whomever'?"

All are pronouns. Specifically, relative and Interrogative pronouns. Relative pronouns (who and whoever) usually act as subjects or objects in their own clauses.

To choose who and whom, whoever, and whomever, simply determine whether it serves as the subject or the object in the sentence.

  • Use "who" where you would use "he" or "she." (notice: all end in vowels)
  • Use "whom" where you would use "him" or "her." (all end in consonants)

At the beginning of the question, use who for a subject. Use whom for an object.

Use this test to see if you got it right (Who vs. Whom)

1.Ask these two questions.

[Who/Whom] makes that decision? [Who/Whom] does one ask?

  1. Answer the questions, but use personal pronoun (he/she / him/her)

Answer: [She/Her] makes that decision. [Correct is "She"] [Subjective]

    One asks [She/Her].  [Correct is "her.]  [Objective]  
  1. Use same case now in the questions.

    [Who] makes that decision? (Subjective)

    [Whom] does one ask? (Objective)



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