The Farlex Grammar Book > English Spelling and Pronunciation > Common Mistakes and Commonly Confused Words > who’s vs. whose
who’s vs. whose
What is the difference between who’s and whose?
Because who’s and whose have a similar appearance and are both pronounced /huz/, they can sometimes be confused for one another in writing. Another part of the problem is that we normally use “-’s” to form possession for nouns (as in Amy’s, the government’s, parent’s, etc.), so single-word determiners that indicate possession can be tricky to remember—this is the same issue many writers encounter with it’s and its.
Who’s is a contraction of the pronoun who and the verbs is or has, and it is used when you are asking about or describing a person’s actions or characteristics. For example:
- “Find out who’s (who is) controlling the cameras.”
- “I decided to ask Arnold, who’s (who is) much better with computers than me.”
- “Who’s (who has) figured out the answer to the first problem?”
- “Does anyone know who’s (who has) been eating my cookies?”
The possessive determiner whose is used when you are asking about or describing a person or thing’s possession of something. For example:
- “Does anyone know whose car (possession of car) this is?”
- “The company, whose profits (possession of profits) have fallen since 2014, announced bankruptcy earlier today.”
Spelling Tricks and Tips
Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple trick to remember the difference; instead, we have to look at the rest of the sentence to help us determine which spelling is correct.
Since whose is a determiner, which functions like an adjective, it will usually be followed by the noun that it is describing.
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