Whoever vs. Whomever: When to Use Whomever or Whoever (with Useful Examples)

Many words that sound and look very similar create problems for even those of us who are rather confident in their English. One example is whoever vs. whomever. With one extra letter added in one of the words, this pair can lead to a lot of confusion. However, if you understand the difference, there’s nothing difficult.

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Whoever vs. Whomever: the Main Difference 

Whoever vs. Whomever: Key Takeaways

WHOEVER is a subject pronoun that functions the same as other subject pronouns, e.g. I, he, she, we. WHOMEVER, on the other hand, is an object pronoun that is the same as him, her, us, and other object pronouns.

In order to sort out which pronoun to use, you can try to replace the word in question with either he or him, and see which option fits. If he fits, then you need to use whoever; if him looks correct, then what you need is whomever.

Whoever vs. Whomever: Definitions 

Definition of ‘Whoever’

Whoever is a subjective pronoun, meaning it often acts as the subject of a sentence or clause. It is used to refer to an unspecified person, echoing the usage of “who.” We apply “whoever” in instances equivalent to he, she, or they. For example, in the sentence, “Whoever made these cookies must be a fantastic baker,” “whoever” is the subject performing the action—making cookies.

Definition of ‘Whomever’

Whomever is an objective pronoun, which refers to the object of a verb or a preposition. Its usage mirrors that of “him,” “her,” or “them.” We use “whomever” when we need to refer to an unspecified person as the object of the action. For instance, “Give the package to whomever you see first” uses “whomever” as the object of the preposition “to.”

When to Use Whomever or Whoever

Let’s see an example: “Give these papers to whoever/ whomever you find in the office”. Which is the correct pronoun to use? Try to rephrase the sentence. Which sounds right, “Give these papers to he” or “Give these papers to him”? Because the second option is correct, you need to write, “Give these papers to whomever you find in the office”.

Look at this sentence: “Whoever/ whomever comes to the party should wear white clothes”. Simplify it and you’ll get either “He should wear white clothes” or “Him should wear white clothes”. The first option is correct, so the pronoun you need to use is whoever.

If you still don’t feel confident with whoever vs. whomever, there’s no reason to worry because you can easily form sentences without using these pronouns. You can always use someone or anyone. These won’t change, depending on whether you are talking about a subject or an object. For instance, you can say, “Give these papers to anyone you find in the office” and “Someone who comes to the party should wear white clothes”.

Tips for Remembering

When we’re choosing between whoever and whomever, we can use a few simple tips to remember which is correct:

Think of whoever as the subject pronoun equivalents heshe, or they. This is the word to use when the person you’re referring to is doing the action.

On the other hand, whomever is used in the same way as object pronouns like himher, or them. Use this word when the person is receiving the action. 

Whoever vs. Whomever Examples

Examples of “Whoever”

  • Whoever finishes their work first will get a bonus.
  • Whoever is responsible for this mess must clean it up.
  • I will give the ticket to whoever can use it.
  • Whoever called earlier did not leave a message.
  • Whoever wins the election will face many challenges.

Examples of “Whomever” 

  • You can bring whomever you like to the party.
  • The prize will be awarded to whomever the judges choose.
  • Send the package to whomever is listed on the label.
  • She will go to the dance with whomever asks her first.
  • The manager will hire whomever he deems most qualified.

Exercises to Learn the Difference

Determine if “whoever” or “whomever” is correct.

  1. Whoever wins the race will get a trophy. (True/False)
  2. Give the documents to whomever is in charge. (True/False)
  3. Whomever you choose, make sure they are qualified. (True/False)
  4. I will support whoever you decide to hire. (True/False)
  5. Ask whomever you want to the party. (True/False)
  6. Whoever did this will be held responsible. (True/False)
  7. Whomever broke the vase will have to pay for it. (True/False)
  8. We will consider whomever has the best qualifications. (True/False)
  9. Whoever you’re looking for is not here. (True/False)
  10. You can sit next to whomever you like at the dinner. (True/False)

Answers

  1. True
  2. True
  3. False (Correct usage: “Whoever you choose, make sure they are qualified.”)
  4. True
  5. False (Correct usage: “Ask whoever you want to the party.”)
  6. True
  7. False (Correct usage: “Whoever broke the vase will have to pay for it.”)
  8. True
  9. True
  10. True

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between ‘whoever’ and ‘whomever’?

  • Whoever: This is a subject pronoun, meaning it often acts as the subject of the clause and is used in the same contexts as the pronouns ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘they,’ and ‘we.’
  • Whomever: This is an object pronoun, functioning as the object in the sentence, clause, or phrase, comparable to ‘him,’ ‘her,’ ‘them,’ or ‘us.’

How do we decide when to use ‘whoever’ or ‘whomever’? We use ‘whoever’ when referring to the subject of the verb, the one doing the action, like in “Whoever made the cake did a fantastic job.” Conversely, ‘whomever’ is used when referring to the object, the recipient of the action, as in “Give the award to whomever you deem most fit.”

Can you give us a simple trick to determine the correct usage? Here’s a handy trick: Substitute ‘he’ or ‘him’ for ‘whoever’ or ‘whomever.’ If ‘he’ sounds correct, use ‘whoever;’ if ‘him’ sounds correct, use ‘whomever.’ Remember, if you can replace it with “he” or “they,” “whoever” is the right choice. If “him” or “them” fits, use “whomever.”

Is it common for people to use ‘whoever’ in place of ‘whomever’? Yes, it is quite common in casual speech and writing for ‘whoever’ to be used in place of ‘whomever.’ However, for formal writing, we should strive to use them correctly.

Example Sentence Correct Pronoun
Give the books to ___ gets here first. whoever
We’ll hire ___ you recommend. whomever

Last Updated on December 8, 2023

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