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For people who are self-proclaimed Grammar Nazis, the use of bad grammar by their friends or popular news websites makes them question how far the quality of public education has declined. Of course, there are some rules that we have been taught over and over again to never to mix up like to, two and too or when to use me instead of I, but one grammar rule that is becoming more obscure is when to use whom over who.

Who is used to refer to the subject of a sentence. Whenever you would use I, he, she, they or it, who is the word to use.

Examples:

• Who are you?

• Do you know the girl who did this?

• I know a person who buys old jewelry.

• Who is at the pond?

Whom is used to refer to the object of a sentence. Whenever you would use him, her or them, whom is the word to use. It is also used as the object of prepositions such as for, to, of, about, over, before and after.

Examples:

• Whom did you talk to at the store?

• George gave the dog to whom?

• I don’t know from whom the threat came from.

• To whom it may concern.

If it sounds weird to say most of the whom examples, you can see why whom is constantly misused. Even the most conscious of grammar checkers would have trouble knowing when to use whom when their writing. Who and whom sound so close together that who just sounds right in these situations like I am sounds more right than I is. In average conversation, who is used to replace whom so much that the only situations that call for whom’s correct use is writing a cover letter to an employer, making a good impression on a potential client or showing off your grammar skills to a friend.

But is the misuse of whom a sign of the dumbing down or destruction of the English language and the public’s average intelligence?

Obscure words

Obscure words

The number of words that have become obsolete in the English language would beg to differ. Slang takes the shortest time to become obsolete. You wouldn’t hear any young, social person say gnarly, Mama Jama or groovy unless they were quoting old songs or being extremely sarcastic. Because many of our simple words have several synonyms, it’s likely that one of these synonyms would become obscure like twattle which means to gossip. There are obsolete words like apricity, the sun’s warmth on a cold, winter’s day, which are so specific that the normal situations that demand it are hard to come by. Language is constantly evolving to make it easier to communicate ideas.

If you’re still not convinced how that the loss of whom doesn’t mean we’re entering a future similar to 1984, certain grammar rules have also become obsolete. No longer can we  never end a sentence with a preposition or start a sentence with the words, and or but. Thy, thee and thou, words that use to take the place of the word, you, are only used to quote old texts or to be melodramatic. In the past, the correct version of we do was we doth. For the word, whom, who is becoming such a versatile word that whom’s relevance is decreasing.

In a hundred years, whom will probably be delegated to formal addresses. However with the thousands of words that have become obsolete and many more being added, the loss of whom doesn’t signal any negative ramification for the English language. Until that time comes, a good knowledge of the difference between who and whom is great in formal situations.