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Whose who’s is whose?

Posted by Wendy Wood on 23rd November , 2021 in Grammar
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When to use who’s and when the choice should be whose can be confusing. And because both are actually words, spell check often races right past—even if you’ve used the wrong one. So, let’s explore the differences and when to use each word.

Who’s is especially confusing because an apostrophe followed by an “s” usually indicates a word is in the possessive form. But who’s is actually a contraction of the subject pronoun who and either the word is or has. It’s used in sentences such as:

Who’s (who is) hungry?
Who’s (who is) in charge of logistics?
Who’s (who has) got the remote?

Whose is the possessive pronoun form of who. It’s used for—you guessed it—showing possession. So you’d use it when you’re indicating to whom something belongs. Here are some example sentences:

Whose jacket is this? (Who does this jacket belong to?)
Whose dog is barking? (It might be my silly boy!)
Whose car is that? (Who does the car belong to?)

I think the easiest way to remember whether to use whose or who’s is to say “who is” to yourself as you write. If “who is” makes sense in the sentence, use who’s. If it doesn’t make sense, use whose.

Wendy Wood
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