Whose vs. Who’s: What’s the Difference?

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We all know there’s a big difference between “whose vs. who’s,” but do you know what that difference is? Most people use these words interchangeably, but there is a definite distinction between them. In this blog post, we’ll clear up the confusion and show you when to use each word. Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!

Whose vs. Who's

What is the difference between Whose vs. Who’s?

Whose is a possessive pronoun, like whose book is this, or whose turn is it? Who’s is a contraction of who + is, like who’s responsible for this mess? They look identical, but their meanings are quite different, which can obviously create confusion and embarrassment.

The best way to keep them straight is to remember that whose always has an ‘s’ on the end, because it’s a possessive pronoun (i.e., it shows ownership), and all possessive pronouns in English are spelled with an s. So if you can remember that little trick, you’ll never accidentally write who’s when you really mean whose again. Phew!

When do you use Whose and when do you use Who’s?

Whose is a possessive form of who, as in “The book was written by an author whose name I can’t remember.” You can use it without a noun following it, as in “Whose idea was this, anyway?”

Who’s is a contraction of who is or who has. For example, you might say “Who’s coming to the party?” or “I wonder who’s been reading my diary.” (The apostrophe takes the place of the i that’s been left out of who is.) You might also see people writing “Who’re,” which is a contraction of “who are.” While this form is less common, it is considered standard.

So there you have it, a quick and easy guide to the difference between “whose” and “who’s.” Just remember that whose is always spelled with an ‘s’ on the end, because it’s a possessive pronoun, and you’ll be good to go.

Examples of how to use Whose and Who’s correctly

Whose is a possessive pronoun? It shows that something belongs to someone. That’s its job — to be a possessive pronoun. Who’s is a contraction of who is or who has. When you contract two words, you put an apostrophe in the place of the missing letter or letters. So in this case, the apostrophe goes where the I is missing.

Who’s coming to the party? Could be either one: “Who is coming to the party?” Or: “Which person’s party are we talking about?” If you want to show possession, use whose.

  • If you want to create a question or a compound subject, use who’s. Correct: Whose book is this on the floor?
  • Incorrect: Who’s book is this on the floor? (This means “Who is book?” which doesn’t make sense.)
  • Correct: Of all the people here, whose song do you like the best?
  • Incorrect: Of all the people here, who’s song do you like the best? (Remember, who’s = who is.)
  • Correct: The cat whose tail was stepped on yowled in pain.
  • Incorrect: The cat who’s tail was stepped on yowled in pain. (Again, who’s = who is.)

Just remember: if you can substitute he/she/it/they in your sentence, use who’s. Otherwise, use whose. Pronouns are tricky little devils, but don’t let them trip you up!

Conclusion

Whose is a possessive pronoun that shows ownership or possession. It is used to indicate that something belongs to someone or that someone has control over something. Who’s is a contraction of who is, and it is used to ask which person or people are involved in an action or situation. In most cases, it is best to use whose rather than who’s, but there may be occasions when you will need to use who’s instead. As with any language rule, there are exceptions, and you should always check a dictionary if you are unsure which word to use in a particular sentence.

FAQs

When do I use whose and when do I use who’s?

Whose is used to indicate possession, while who’s is used to indicate a contraction of who is. For example, “whose book is this?” would be asking who the book belongs to, while “who’s going to the party?” is asking who is going to the party. In general, if you can replace the word with “who is,” you will use who’s.

Can I use who’s in place of whose all the time?

While who’s can be used as a stand-in for whose in some cases, it is not always appropriate. Who’s should only be used when it is acting as a contraction for “who is.” If you are asking about possession, you should use whose. For example, saying “Who’s pencil is this?” would technically be correct, but it would sound more natural to say “Whose pencil is this?”

What are some other examples of when to use each word?

  • Whose car is that?
  • Who’s going to the movies with me?
  • I don’t know who’s responsible for this mess.
  • Whose turn is it to take out the trash?
  • Who’s been eating my cookies?

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