Whose vs who's: when to use which word (with simple examples)

Whose vs who's: when to use which word (with simple examples)

Sometimes, it may be hard to differentiate between whose and who's. This happens both to those who have been learning English for a short time and to experienced speakers. In this article, we will discuss all the particular qualities of whose vs who's and learn where to use one or the other.

Whose vs who's
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Quite often, the dilemma ensues whether you should use who's or whose in the sentence. Many people tend to use one instead of the other when it is grammatically incorrect.

This comprehensive guide will hopefully help you out with the confusion once and for all.

Whose vs who's: things you need to remember

  • Both who's and whose are considered as homophones. However, you can not use them interchangeably.
  • Both of these expressions are correct, yet they possess different meanings in a sentence.
  • They are pronounced in the same way, which might be the main reason for people's confusion.

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When to use whose

The word "whose" is derived from the words "who" or "whom". It is a possessive adjective, which people use when they ask about the owner of something.

For example, if you want to ask to whom a bag belongs, you can say, "Whose bag is this?". Additionally, if you would like to know who the owner of a house is, you could ask, "Whose house is this?".

Whose can express not only possession but also agency, association, or the receiving of a certain action. It could also function as a pronoun and mean "something which belongs to someone (whom)."

As for how to use whose in a sentence, one good instance of its usage is "I found an umbrella, but didn't know whose it was." Another example is "The entire class submitted good essays, and the teacher had a hard time determining whose was the best."

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You can try to remember the phrase "whose shoes?". If you say "who's shoes," the meaning will be "who is shoes," which does not make any sense.

When to use who's

Difference between whose and who's
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First of all, we are going to talk about "who." "Who" is a subject pronoun, which is used to refer to animate subjects, usually people.

It is used when asking about a person. For instance, "who is this girl?" or "who are you going to prom with?".

There is also the word "whom," which can be referenced in speech sometimes. It is the equivalent of words such as "him," "her," "them," and "me."

One example of its usage is "whom did you ask to the dance?" Whom is not used frequently in everyday communication, but it is considered to be grammatically correct.

Now on to "who's," which seems to be a point of confusion for many people. In reality, it is quite simple: "who's" is a contraction for either "who is" or "who has."

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It is shortened and written with the apostrophe in order to make pronunciation quicker and easier. "Who is" or "who has" are quite stuffy to use in speech, so people tend to shorten them to "who's" instead.

This means instead of "Who is Stacy?" you can ask "Who's Stacy?" if you are interested in knowing more about this person. If the teacher wants to question the diligence of students, instead of "Who has completed the assignment?" they can ask, "Who's completed the assignment?"

The difference between whose and who's

People get confused between whose versus who's in a similar way as it happens with "it's" and "its." The two possess different meanings, as "it's" is a contraction of "it is," while "its" is a possessive form of "it."

Who's vs whose
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Quite often, this happens because speakers are inclined to view all the words which end in -s as possessive forms. Therefore, it gets natural to lean towards the -s form when you say, for instance, "the singer who's songs I like" instead of "the singer whose songs I like"; however, the second option is the correct one.

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There is one more trick to remember when you differentiate between whose or who's. It would help if you remembered that possessive adjectives, such as "my," "yours," "his," "her," "our," "their," and "its" are written without the apostrophe, and "whose" also belongs to this category.

Who's vs whose: simple examples

Examples of whose or who's in a sentence may make more sense to you.

Here are some easy examples comparing who's versus whose, which will help you understand the difference better. These examples will help you when you don't know if you should use who's or whose.

  • Whose notebook is this?
  • Who's the owner of this notebook?
  • Whose novel is "The Great Gatsby"?
  • Who's the writer of "The Great Gatsby"?
  • Whose cat has scratched my furniture?
  • Who's the owner of the cat that scratched my furniture?
  • Whose paper is this?
  • Who's the student that wrote this paper?
  • Whose party are we going to?
  • Who's organizing the party that we are going to?
  • Whose chair have you been sitting in?
  • Who's been sitting in my chair?
  • Whose mess is it in the kitchen?
  • Who's made that mess in the kitchen - was it you?
  • "Who's out there?" the lady asked.
  • "Whose voice is it?" she continued, speaking in a frightened tone.
  • Whose stadium are we playing the next week's game at?
  • Who's hosting our game next week?
  • Helen, whose mom is a lawyer, is in our class.
  • Helen, who's the lawyer's daughter, is in our class.
  • Whose show is it tonight? I'd like to go with you.
  • Who's performing at the club tonight? Is it a famous band?

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Who's versus whose
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  • Jane, whose friend works at the store, will come back soon.
  • Jane, who's the friend of Lily from the store, will return in a few minutes.
  • Anyone whose skills in programming are good can join this project.
  • Anyone, who's got great skills in programming, can join this project.
  • Whose car is parked in front of my house?
  • Who's parked their car right in front of my house?
  • Betty, whose singing abilities are incredible, performed at the concert and received a standing ovation.
  • Betty, who's an aspiring singer, performed at the concert and received a standing ovation.
  • I found this last slice of pizza in the kitchen. Do you know whose it is?
  • I found this last slice of pizza in the kitchen. Do you know who's left it there?
  • Whose fault is it that you are late again?
  • Who's at fault that you are late again?

We believe this handy guide about the usage of whose vs who's will help you understand these expressions better and differentiate between the instances when you have to use either.

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