When it comes to homophones, or words that sound the same but are spelled differently, it can be rather difficult to tell the two words apart. When do you use which word? This post explains the difference between who’s and whose.
Who’s v. Whose
Both these words deal with people. The difference is what situations they show.
Who’s is the contraction for who and is.
Every time you use this word, you must be asking or talking about someone. You should be able to substitute who is to any use of who’s. If the sentence still makes sense, then you have used it correctly!
Most commonly, who’s is used to ask a question. Note that using a contraction is usually standard in English speaking, but is not formal enough to use in a written piece.
- Who’s the person in charge of organizing the food and drinks for this party?
- Who’s knocking at the door?
Likewise, you can use it in statements.
- I have a friend who’s interested in the open position at your company.
- I can’t believe who’s walking around the neighborhood this late at night.
Whose is used to show possession.
The list of equivalent words for whose includes my, his, her, our, your, etc. If you are asking whether something belongs to someone, you can use whose. Substituting any of the possessive pronouns for whose should make for a sentence that makes sense.
- Whose books are these that have been left all over the floor?
- I do not know whose trash that is, but it has been there for the past week.
In addition, whose can be a transition word to join an adjective phrase to a person or group of people. Whose and that both serve this purpose, and you use whose when the adjective is talking about a subject that is a person.
- I just met a man whose daughter is studying for her college entrance exams, just like I am!
- The student whose parents do not have enough time to care for him or her is likely to do poorly in school, even if the family is of high socioeconomic status and hires tutors for the child.
Do you know the difference between who’s and whose? Try to fill in the blanks in the questions below with the word that is correct. See the bottom of the post for the answers!
- ______ room is this on the first floor?
- Ryan does not want to know ______ juice was spilled all over the brand new couch.
- The new car in the driveway belongs to ______ mother?
- What is the purpose of the doorman ______ day seems to pass by as he sits by the front desk?
- ______ responsible for this part of the project?
- ______ responsibility is it to finish this part of the project?
- The computer was supposed to be ______?
- ______ the person that I should contact if I want to follow up with this interview?
- ______ paper did the professor like the most?
- What was the reason for the mess? ______ to blame?