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I get confused about the “tricks” we are supposed to use to figure out the right word.

“Don’t forget about the commissions you’ll be earning coming from those who you referred.”

I realize “you referred them,” so “whom“ would make sense.

But, couldn’t I also argue that “they were who you referred”? So, “who” would be correct?

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    The right word is who. You don't have to learn tricks to use it. Forget whom (well, remember that it means who when you see it). You won't hear it, because nobody says it unless they're reading aloud, or trying to appear intelligent and educated. But if you don't use whom, you won't misuse it. And at the present time, it can only be misused, because English speakers don't all use the same "rules" for using it. Many believe that it's a formal version of who instead of an accusative version. Since we do have formal words but don't have accusative any more, this isn't a bad guess. – John Lawler Jul 11 '20 at 0:12
  • Interesting you say “unless they’re reading aloud,” because that sentence was read in a video. I guess what I’m asking is are both usages correct? – Saul Good Jul 11 '20 at 0:16
  • Who is always correct (unless you pied-pipe a preposition with it, like with whom). That does have to be whom. But stranding the preposition at the end like the first sentence is better than moving it, and that's what everybody does unless they're virtue-signalling. – John Lawler Jul 11 '20 at 0:18
  • Wow, I never knew this! Was it always this way or is it one of those things that has recently become a thing? – Saul Good Jul 11 '20 at 0:22
  • It was different a century ago, and much different in 1800 (which is the conventional start of Modern English, as opposed to Early Modern English[ 1600-1800]). English syntax is a new acquisition, less than a millennium old, and it changes fast. – John Lawler Jul 11 '20 at 0:24
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As John Lawler says in his comment, "whom" can always be replaced by "who".

I would go further, and suggest that if you're saying "whom", you need to think carefully about whether that's appropriate for your audience. It's probably not.

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    That's not quite true. Only "whom" is possible when the pronoun is object of a preposition, as in "To whom am I talking?" – BillJ Jul 11 '20 at 7:12
  • Yes, you're right that a one-to-one swap isn't always correct (although it often is).I really just meant that it's always able to be replaced with clearer, easier language. To use your example, "who am I talking to?" or simply "what is your name?" are more accessible ways of saying the same thing. – aaaidan Jul 14 '20 at 4:06

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