See also: WHO
  • english



From Middle English who, hwo, huo, wha, hwoa, hwa, from Old English hwā (dative hwām, genitive hwæs), from Proto-Germanic *hwaz, from Proto-Indo-European *kʷos, *kʷis. Spelling change hw > wh in Middle English (without sound change in initial consonant cluster), while sound change /hw/ > /h/ due to wh-cluster reduction after a bizarre instance of three consecutive vowel shifts of /aː/ to /ɔː/ to /oː/ in Middle English and further to /uː/ in Early Modern English (although only the shift from /ɔː/ to /oː/ is unusual). Compare how, which underwent this change earlier (in Old English), and thus is spelt h.

Compare Scots wha, West Frisian wa, Dutch wie, Low German we, German wer, Danish hvem, Norwegian Bokmål hvem, Norwegian Nynorsk kven, Icelandic hver.


  • enPR: ho͞o, IPA(key): /huː/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -uː


who (singular or plural, nominative case, objective whom, who, possessive whose)

  1. (interrogative) What person or people; which person or people; asks for the identity of someone. (used in a direct or indirect question)
    Who is that? (direct question)
    I don't know who it is. (indirect question)
  2. (interrogative) What is one's position; asks whether someone deserves to say or do something.
    I don't like what you did, but who am I to criticize you? I've done worse.
  3. (relative) The person or people that.
    It was a nice man who helped us.
  4. (relative, archaic) Whoever, he who, they who.

Usage notes

  • Who is a subject pronoun. Whom is an object pronoun. To determine whether a particular sentence uses a subject or an object pronoun, rephrase it to use he/she or him/her instead of who, whom; if you use he or she, then you use the subject pronoun who; if you use him or her, then you use the object pronoun.
  • Who can also be used as an object pronoun, especially in informal writing and speech (hence one hears not only whom are you waiting for? but also who are you waiting for?), and whom may be seen as (overly) formal; in some dialects and contexts, it is hardly used, even in the most formal settings. As an exception to this, fronted prepositional phrases almost always use whom, e.g. one usually says with whom did you go?, not *with who did you go?. However, dialects where whom is infrequently used usually avoid fronting prepositional phrases in the first place, except for in fossilised phrases.
  • The use of who as an object pronoun is proscribed by many authorities, but is frequent nonetheless.
  • When “who” (or the other relative pronouns “that” and “which”) is used as the subject of a relative clause, the verb agrees with the antecedent of the pronoun. Thus “I who am...”, “He who is...”, “You who are...”, etc.



who (plural whos)

  1. A person under discussion; a question of which person.
    • 2008 March 21, The New York Times, “Movie Guide and Film Series”, in New York Times[1]:
      A wham-bam caper flick, efficiently directed by Roger Donaldson, that fancifully revisits the mysterious whos and speculative hows of a 1971 London bank heist.


Other Languages
Ænglisc: who
العربية: who
Aymar aru: who
azərbaycanca: who
čeština: who
corsu: who
dansk: who
Deutsch: who
eesti: who
Ελληνικά: who
español: who
Esperanto: who
euskara: who
français: who
한국어: who
հայերեն: who
hrvatski: who
Ido: who
Interlingue: who
italiano: who
ಕನ್ನಡ: who
қазақша: who
kurdî: who
ລາວ: who
Latina: who
latviešu: who
lietuvių: who
Limburgs: who
magyar: who
Malagasy: who
മലയാളം: who
မြန်မာဘာသာ: who
Nāhuatl: who
Nederlands: who
日本語: who
norsk: who
norsk nynorsk: who
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: who
ភាសាខ្មែរ: who
polski: who
português: who
русский: who
Gagana Samoa: who
संस्कृतम्: who
Simple English: who
slovenčina: who
српски / srpski: who
suomi: who
svenska: who
தமிழ்: who
తెలుగు: who
ไทย: who
ᏣᎳᎩ: who
Türkçe: who
українська: who
اردو: who
中文: who