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We were just talking about the most common format of formal letters in practice, and the words that kept coming up were “Who/whom”, “said” and “same”. In context they were framed thus:

“To Who/Whom it may concern”
“I shall consider the said complaint.”
“I am hereby applying for the same.”

Let’s consider the first one here. Do you write who or whom? Whoever or Whomever?

In theory, these take the same rules as personal pronouns: use “who” as a subject and “whom” as an object. In practice, “who” takes on both roles in speech, and “whom” is more formal. However, you have to use “whom” after prepositions, even in speech:

From whom did you hear this?
In whom do you trust?

However, this slightly formal structure is less common than

Who did you hear this from?
Who do you trust?

In order to know which form to use, reconstruct the sentence. “Who do you want to meet?” is related to “You want to meet him/her/them” – object. So in the above sentences, whom is the correct form to use, according to strict grammar:

From whom did you hear this? (You heard this from him/her/them)
In whom do you trust? (You trust in him/her/them)

In contrast, the following sentences do not relate to the object, and therefore, use who:

Someone moved the chair, but who? (He/she did)
Who do you think is responsible for the misdeed? (I think he/she is)

Let’s consider the following sentences now:

The people whom I employed for this work g\did the job well.
She was happy with her students, whom she felt were working very hard.

Again ask yourself whether the pronoun is acting as a subject or object. In the first sentence, the underlying statement is “I employed the people”, so the object case “whom” would be formally correct (though who sounds more natural and is used more often these days).

The second example is tricky. One has used “whom” because it might be the object of “she felt”. But it is not so. If you read it again, you will see that putting “she felt” in brackets would also do in the sentence. The underlying statement therefore, is “(She felt that) they were working very hard”.

So the sentence should read:

She was happy with her students, who she felt were working very hard.

As far as whoever/whomever is concerned, they pretty much follow the same rules as Who / Whom.

Whoever / whomever I met, said the same thing.
He lectured on and on to whoever was prepared to listen.

Now strictly speaking, “whomever” is grammatically right in the first sentence but it sounds really formal. So it is less commonly used than the colloquial “whoever”. In the second sentence though “Whomever” is a case of hypercorrection. The pronoun is the subject of “was prepared”. So the sentence should read:

He lectured on and on to whoever was prepared to listen.

So now whoever has read this, knows the difference, right?

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