Common mistakes: That vs. who vs. whom

Why and when to use these sometimes confusing pronouns.

They say the devil’s in the details, and few aspects of English grammar are more impish than who vs. that and who vs. whom.

As is the case with many grammatical inconsistencies, using the wrong pronoun will not result in your being misunderstood. To many you may even sound correct. But isn’t it heavenly to know how to use which one—and why?

Let’s explore these little rascals, starting with who vs.that.

The relative pronoun who refers to persons. The relative pronoun that refers to things.

Who rarely is used mistakenly in writing or in speaking when one is referring to things. However, people often mistakenly use that when they mean who.

Check out the following incorrect uses of that. They may sound right, but they aren’t.

Incorrect:

In each sentence, the relative pronoun relates to a person or persons, and that calls for the use of who.

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