I have mentioned the trickiness of using “whom” several times over the years. I predict the word will pretty much vanish from the language in the not-so-near future; in the meantime, we have to deal with it. Use it wrong, and those in the know will hoot and holler. This is not okay if that person in the know has some kind of serious influence, such as deciding whether to hire you.
Occasionally I made passing reference to a good solution to the whole “whom” problem, but I recently ran into someone who used this good solution, and that suggested to me that maybe I should give the solution a little more emphasis. My informant is Erika Moen, author of the site Oh Joy Sex Toy. Yes, it’s an educational site about sex. And I must warn you, she’s not a fundamental baptist! Her material is not pornographic, but it’s really candid, and she covers topics that I don’t think will ever apply to me (blush), but her intent is to inform and to do so in a way that communicates well. You have been warned! Here’s the quote:
I have a bunch of friends who I love. Friends THAT I love? Friends for whom I feel love? I have some friends and I love them.
(Actually, the first sentence should have “whom,” and then it’d be right, hoot holler) But she dealt with the uncertainty by rewriting the whole sentence. Rewriting is an excellent way to eliminate those difficult passages where you’re not sure about what word or what phrase is correct.
Start over and rewrite the passage!
You might have to reflect to get the rewording to say what you want, but it’s worth the effort. You’ll eliminate having written something incorrectly; you won’t be a bad example to some beginner; and the chance is good that your rewritten passage will be more compelling than your first attempt.
Solve your problem by getting rid of it!