Nobody knows when to use WHOM. I get that. It’s at a higher level of linguistic complexity than is ordinarily encountered… fine.
The problem is, nobody knows how to use WHO any more, either.
WHO is used to indicate a human being; THAT is used to indicate a thing such as an object, an institution, a concept, a body etc.
“The home THAT I lived in.”
“The dog THAT ate my homework.”
“The company THAT hired me to work on THAT machine.”
“The person WHO helped me.”
“The woman WHO gave birth.”
“The man WHO corrected my syntax, and in so doing, improved my grammar.”
More and more …and I’ve been hearing this since I can remember… people: reporters; pundits; news anchors; professors; translators; lawyers; poets; priests; and politicians, WHO all have words to thank for their positions (-Sting,) have been making THAT very mistake during public announcements, pronouncements, disclosures, and discourse.
“The woman THAT… ”
“The guy THAT… ”
I’ve even heard, “The dog WHO… ” but that was unique.
Much more prevalent, and worse yet, “The company WHO hired a thousand people THAT all applied for a job” or something similar is rather common nowadays.
WHO is only ever used to distinguish a corporation, and never to describe an individual… anymore. A man, a woman, a child, a grandmother is reduced to a thing, a commodity perhaps. Corp-or-ations (em-body-ments) are promoted to the noble rank; as though a company had a soul. It is a pleasant construct, but one based primarily on techniques of motivation found throughout the subject of organizational behaviour. Even if a company could be said to have a soul, it should surely not supercede the soul of a man, woman, or a child; should it?
Let’s get back to the habit, as it has always existed, of showing ourselves and each other… a little respect (-AF.) Let’s call each other WHO, and leave THAT for the heartless legal fictions THAT make up this power structure, this architecture, this, this, netherworld we survive in. Commerce is akin to magic, to dark matter. Commerce is the anything machine of the world. Therefore, as a machine, it should be put in its place beneath us, it should show deference, and it should be represented by THAT.
“WHO are you?”
“Are you THAT man?”
“…THAT man WHO did THAT thing?”
“THAT was me.”
“I’m THAT man, THAT man WHO did THAT thing.”