Whoever and Whomever
- On April 23, 2019
Only one of the following sentences is correct. Which one is it?
- Give the ice cream to whoever wants it the most.
- Give the ice cream to whomever wants it the most.
Because you say to whom, you might think the second sentence—the one with whomever—is the correct choice, but it’s not.
In this case, the verb phrase wants it the most calls the shots. It needs a subject pronoun and that would be whoever.
If you go back to the tricks I talked about in the who/whom post, you could also ask yourself who would appreciate the ice cream the most. Either he would or she would, making whoever the correct choice.
However, you would say Give the ice cream to whomever you want.
Because you, the subject of the whole sentence, want either him or her to have it. And him and her are always connected to whom.
Now, to whoever is itching for more examples (is itching calls for the subject pronoun whoever), consider this whom- and who-packed sentence, written by a reporter covering latest travails of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft:
It gets complicated when you find yourself writing a profile on someone you’ve never met, whom you cannot interview, who has been followed and written about for more than two decades and who is now at the center of a media firestorm.
- Whom you cannot interview—because you cannot interview him
- Who has been followed—because the verb phrase has been followed needs the subject pronoun who
- Who is now at the center—because is now at the center needs the subject pronoun who
Feel free to pass this along to whomever you think would benefit from this explanation. Or pass it along to whoever needs it!