Who’s vs. Whose: Is There an Owl in Here?

Are you serious? You don't know the difference?

Whose. Who’s. Which do you use and when?

The most common error in this regard is to use who’s as a possessive. Why? Because that’s the rule we learned in school: in order to make a noun possessive, you take out the Elmer’s Glue and stick ‘s to the end of it, like so:

That’s Vladimir‘s baby-blue Pacer. (That baby-blue Pacer belongs to Vladimir.)

But you must erase this from your mind. Who’s only means who is or who has. It never means anything else. Ever. Okay? Who’s is a contraction in which the apostrophe replaces the i in is or the ha in has. Examples:

Who’s your daddy? (Who is your daddy?) Who’s got head lice? (Who has got head lice?)

Whose is the possessive form of who and sometimes which. Definition: “belonging to whom or which.” Examples:

Zerubabel, whose last name is O’Reilly, did the Safety Dance. (Zerubabel, to whom belongs the surname of O’Reilly, did the Safety Dance.)

Whose Village People eight-track is that? (To whom does that Village People eight-track tape belong?)

So in the words of Brad in Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Learn it. Know it. Live it.


Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s