by Rich Wallace
It gives me great pleasure to hereby eliminate two fundamental but archaic rules of grammar.
My son texted me this afternoon to inquire whether “whoever” or “whomever” was correct in a sentence he’d written in a report for his job. I didn’t know the answer, and I have, in fact, never known the correct answer to a “who or whom” question, and have always opted for “who” (or “whoever”). I never use whom or whomever, even though I know I’ve been “wrong” nearly half the time. So I’ve decided to change the rules.
I looked up my son’s situation in two dictionaries and the Chicago Manual of Style and ascertained--with about 70% confidence--that “whoever” was probably the correct choice. But then I decided, who cares? So, henceforth, “who” or “whoever” will be the right choice in every situation.
In related news, constructions such as this: “To whom shall I send this letter?” will now be cast in real English as “Who should I send this letter to?” which is the way I have always said it (and written it) anyway. Every time I have said (or written) it that way is now retroactively correct.
Here’s the simple new rule, written poetically for easy memorization: Who and whoever are always correct; whom and whomever are never.