Object of a Preposition (Who/Whom, If/Whether, Between You and Me, Me and My Wife)

The Quick Answer
  • After a preposition, use whom not who.
  • After a preposition, use whether not if.
  • If you're going to say something like my wife and I, make sure it's the subject of your sentence, otherwise it should be me and my wife.
  • You can't say between you and I. It's between you and me.

Object of a Preposition

The words that follow a preposition are called the object of the preposition.

  • The cat ran under the car.
  • (The words the car are the object of the preposition under.)

  • Can you give this parcel to him tomorrow?
  • (The word him is the object of the preposition to.)

    As covered in the lesson on prepositions, a preposition usually sits before a noun (i.e., a word like dog, man, house, Alan) or a pronoun (i.e., a word like him, her, which, it, them). This is worth knowing because the object of a preposition is always in the objective case, and pronouns change in this case. (That sounds really complicated, but it just means that he changes to him when you say something like next to him, and she changes to her when you say something like It's for her. In general, native English speakers have little trouble forming the objective case.)

    • Can you give the parcel to him?
    • (He changes to him in the objective case.)
    • I went to the cinema with them.
    • (They changes to them in the objective case.)

    Who and Whom

    The problem seems to be with who and whom. These two words are no different from pairings like I/me, he/him, she/her, we/us, and they/them, but they are responsible for a lot more grammar mistakes.

    The word whom is the objective case of who, and this pairing causes some confusion. (This is covered more in the lesson Who and Whom.)

    • Andy saw the scouts, at least one of whom was armed, through the mist.  
    • (Whom – objective case after the preposition of)
    • Against whom did you protest if there was nobody present?
    • (Whom – objective case after the preposition against)

      should be "Two hits to whom?"
      (grammatically dodgy joke in a university magazine)

See Also

More than I or more than me? What are prepositions? Ending a sentence in a preposition The object of a preposition Verbs with prepositions - succinct writing The difference between who and whom