The words “whoever” and “whomever” often cause confusion among English language learners and even native speakers. Both are pronouns, but they serve different roles in sentences.

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Subject and Object Pronouns

In English grammar, pronouns are words that take the place of nouns. There are two types of pronouns that are often confused: subject pronouns and object pronouns. “Whoever” is a subject pronoun, which means it is used as the subject of a verb in a sentence.

For example, in “Whoever made the cake did a great job,” “whoever” is the subject performing the action of making the cake.

On the other hand, “whomever” is an object pronoun, which means it is used as the object of a verb or preposition.

For example, in “Give the award to whomever you think deserves it,” “whomever” is the object of the preposition “to.”

Subject pronouns perform the action in a sentence, while object pronouns receive the action or are the object of a preposition.

Rules for Using “Whoever” and “Whomever”

When deciding between “whoever” and “whomever,” it’s important to understand their roles in a sentence. Here are two simple rules to help you choose the correct pronoun:

Rule 1: Use “whoever” when it is the subject of a verb.

“Whoever” is used as a subject pronoun, which means it should be used when the pronoun is the one doing the action in the sentence. For example:

📌 “Whoever answers the question correctly will win a prize.” (Here, “whoever” is the subject of the verb “answers.”)

Rule 2: Use “whomever” when it is the object of a verb or preposition.

“Whomever” is used as an object pronoun, which means it should be used when the pronoun is receiving the action of the verb or is the object of a preposition. For example:

📌 “Give the book to whomever you think will enjoy it the most.” (Here, “whomever” is the object of the preposition “to.”)

📌 “I will listen to whomever speaks the truth.” (Here, “whomever” is the object of the verb “listens.”)

By following these rules and understanding the role of the pronoun in the sentence, you can confidently choose between “whoever” and “whomever.” Remember, the key is to identify whether the pronoun is acting as the subject or the object in the sentence.

An image that shows the difference between whomever or whoever
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Exercise: Identify the Correct Usage

Choose the correct pronoun (whoever or whomever) for each sentence.

  1. (Whoever/Whomever) finishes first will get a prize.
  2. I will talk to (whoever/whomever) is in charge.
  3. Send the invitation to (whoever/whomever) you want.
  4. (Whoever/Whomever) wrote this poem is very talented.
  5. You can give the job to (whoever/whomever) you think is suitable.
  6. (Whoever/Whomever) you choose, make sure they are reliable.
  7. (Whoever/Whomever) wins the election will face many challenges.
  8. We will support (whoever/whomever) the committee selects.
  9. (Whoever/Whomever) left these cookies here, thank you!
  10. Give the award to (whoever/whomever) has the highest score.

Answers

  1. Whoever finishes first will get a prize.
  2. I will talk to whoever is in charge.
  3. Send the invitation to whoever you want.
  4. Whoever wrote this poem is very talented.
  5. You can give the job to whoever you think is suitable.
  6. Whoever you choose, make sure they are reliable.
  7. Whoever wins the election will face many challenges.
  8. We will support whoever the committee selects.
  9. Whoever left these cookies here, thank you!
  10. Give the award to whoever has the highest score.

To Sum Up

The correct use of “whoever” and “whomever” is an important aspect of English grammar. “Whoever” is used as a subject pronoun, while “whomever” serves as an object pronoun. After learning the simple rules and practicing with examples, you can confidently choose the right pronoun for your sentences.

FAQ

What is the difference between whoever and whomever?

The difference between “whoever” and “whomever” lies in their grammatical roles. “Whoever” is used as a subject pronoun, meaning it acts as the subject of a verb. “Whomever” is used as an object pronoun, meaning it acts as the object of a verb or preposition.

How do you use whomever in a sentence?

Use “whomever” when the pronoun is the object of a verb or preposition in a sentence. For example: “Give the award to whomever you think deserves it.” In this sentence, “whomever” is the object of the preposition “to.”

Can whoever and whomever be used interchangeably?

No, “whoever” and “whomever” cannot be used interchangeably. They have different grammatical roles, with “whoever” being a subject pronoun and “whomever” being an object pronoun. Using them interchangeably can lead to grammatical errors.

Are there any exceptions to the rules for using whoever vs whomever?

While there are no strict exceptions to the rules, there may be cases where the choice between “whoever” and “whomever” is not clear-cut, especially in complex sentences with multiple clauses. In such cases, rephrasing the sentence for clarity may be helpful.

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