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definition of the word who

by the Wiktionnary

Rank of this word in the English language, from analyzing texts from Project Gutenberg.
me an we #43: who said would been

Old English hwā (dative hwām, genitive hwæs), from Proto-Germanic *khwas, *khwes, *khwo, from Proto-Indo-European *kʷos.

Wikipedia has an article on:
Who (pronoun)


who singular or plural, nominative case (possessive whose, objective case whom)

(Note that who is often used instead of whom, especially in informal writing or conversation.)

  1. (interrogative pronoun) What person or people; which person or people (used in a direct or indirect question).
    Who is that? (direct question)
    I don't know who it is. (indirect question)
  2. (relative pronoun) The person or people that.
    It was a nice man who helped us.

Whom is an object pronoun, while who is a subject pronoun. One would never use whom as the subject of a verb. One method to use to determine correctness of who vs. whom is to rephrase the sentence to eliminate who or whom in favor of he, him, she, her, they or them. If you would have used he, she, or they, in place of the word, then who is the correct word; if you would have used him, her, or them, then whom is the correct word.

This also applies for whoever and whomever, in which if you would replace that word with 'he' or 'she', then 'who' or 'whoever' is the correct word; if you would use 'him' or 'her' instead, then 'whom' or 'whomever' is correct.

In the famous Mamas & The Papas song Go where you wanna go there is a line, You gotta go where you wanna go, Do what you wanna do With whomever you want to do it, babe. We can rephrase the end of this sentence correctly as "with him or her, babe". We cannot correctly rephrase the sentence as "with he or she, babe" and thus, "whomever" was the correct word in the line of that song.

Definition from Wiktionary
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