Writing Tip: Who vs Whom

Consider this: You’re at an information booth and the gentleman/lady manning the counter is of little help. And you want to scream at them, “So who should I ask?” when your inner editor goes, “Should it be who or whom?”

I know, frustrating.

So the next time you feel stumped by the who or whom conundrum, try these quick, easy tricks:

Trick 1

Remember:

Who is a pronoun used in the subject position. Who is driving that car?

Whom is a pronoun used in the object position. Here is the man with whom I would like to converse.

Trick 2

Answer the question posed.

If the answer is “he”, “she”, or “they”, you should be using who.

If the answer is “him”, “her”, or “them”, whom would be the correct choice.

For example:

Who is the girl in the yellow dress? She is the girl in the yellow dress. Correct.

Who cracked the code? He/She/They cracked the code. Correct.

For who are these flowers meant? The flowers are meant for her/him/them (not him/her/they). So, incorrect. Here, whom should be used.

Similarly,

Whom are you meeting? I am meeting him. Correct.

Whom should we invite to dinner? We should invite them. Correct.

Whom are the neighbors? They are the neighbors (not the neighbors are them). So, incorrect. Here, who should be used.

So, back to our very first question:

Who or whom should I ask? I should ask him/her/them. Thus, the correct choice would be whom.

Writing Tip: Offence vs. Offense

If someone says something rude to you, should you take offence or offense? If you didn’t mean to upset others with your hard-hitting opinion, should you say “no offence” or “no offense”?

The answer is quite simple. Either would be correct.

They both sound the same, are nouns, and mean the same thing.

According to Merriam-Webster, offence or offense can mean any of the following:

– Something that outrages the moral or physical senses
– The act of attacking
– The means or method of attacking or of attempting to score
– The offensive team or members of a team playing offensive position
– The act of displeasing or affronting
– The state of being insulted or morally outraged

The only difference is the spelling. Offence is used in British English and offense in American English.

This spelling variation extends to offenceless and offenseless (adjectives) as well. However, offensive (adjective) and offend (verb) are spelled the same in both British English and American English.

Note: The same logic applies to defence and defense, but not to practise and practice and advise and advice, which follow different rules.

Flights of Imagination

island

Flights of imagination take off each day.
There’s no proper height to be.
I can swing from one to the other any moment,
Without any age limit or a ticket or fee.

One goes to the country of chocolate-filled oceans,
Another to a land where birds are kings.
One to a world where cartoons live like people,
Yet another to where winged creatures spin dreams.

I once took a flight to the land of funny giants,
But mid-way got dropped in the sea.
I ended up stranded, paddling an island,
Egged on by a whiny little imp.

She fumed and she swore,
She got bored and she snored.
Why can’t we fly?
She kept yelling repeatedly.

Why not indeed, I wondered aloud.
We’d been paddling for days,
My arms sore, my head heavy with flies.

Why not turn the sea into the sky,
The island into a ship that could fly,
And connect all worlds with trout
That so often wriggled and leaped straight into our mouths!

From trout to trout,
We first paddled, then flew.
And when we reached the island,
We rested, met the giants, ate stew (not fish stew!).

Not a while longer did we stay,
Another flight of imagination was heading our way.