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There’s an easy rule for this – who or whom is used to introduce a new clause. Firstly, work out which pronoun (he, she, they, him, her, them, etc…) would be correct if you wrote two separate sentences:

  • If the answer’s he, she or they, the clause should begin with who
  • If the answer’s him, her or them, it should be whom

For example, the sentence Mr Smith ignored Mr Clarke, [who or whom] he disliked, is two separate clauses:

  • Mr Smith ignored Mr Clarke
  • Because he disliked him

Because Mr Smith disliked him (Mr Clarke), the correct sentence would read, Mr Smith ignored Mr Clarke, whom he disliked.

Another example – Mr Smith ignored Mr Clarke, [who or whom] he believed had been disloyal also has two clauses:

  • Mr Smith ignored Mr Clarke
  • Because he believed he had been disloyal

Because Mr Smith believed he (Mr Clarke) had been disloyal, the correct sentence would read, Mr Smith ignored Mr Clarke, who he believed had been disloyal.

Who’s is a contraction of who is or who has – the apostrophe represents the missing letter or letters. For example, Who’s a pretty boy, then? (who is a pretty boy then?) and Who’s left the cage open? (who has left the cage open?).

Whose indicates possession, as is, who owns this. For example, Whose parrot is this? or Mr Smith, whose parrot it was, blamed Mr Clarke for the bird’s escape.