Whose vs. Who’s: Useful Difference between Who’s vs. Whose

Who’s the one whose sentence had who’s instead of whose? Sounds confusing, right? These two words can easily be mixed up for quite a few reasons: their pronunciation, their form and their use (in a way). But when is the right time to use each one? That’s what you’ll find out after reading the next few paragraphs.

Whose vs. Who’s: the Key Differences

Whose vs. Who'sPin

Whose vs. Who’s: Key Takeaways 

To clear up the mystery we first have to know what each word means. Whose can be either an adjective or a pronoun “of or relating to whom or which especially as possessor or possessors”. Basically, whose shows possession. Who’s is a contraction of the word who and either the word is or has. The confusion between whose vs. who’s stems from the fact that we usually use ‘s to show possession, which makes us think that who’s would be the right choice when it isn’t. It’s just the same as with its versus it’s.

Whose vs. Who’s: the Definition

Who’s and whose are two terms that often cause confusion due to their similar pronunciation, yet they serve entirely different grammatical functions. Understanding the distinction is vital for correct English usage.

  • Who’s is a contraction of two separate words:
    • Who is: For present tense statements or questions, e.g., Who’s going to the store?
    • Who has: For perfect tense forms, e.g., Who’s seen my keys?

The apostrophe in who’s signifies the omission of letters that occur in the contraction process.

  • Whose, on the other hand, is the possessive form of who. It is used to assign ownership or affiliation, similar to his, her, or their. For example:
    • Whose book is this?
    • The student whose hand was raised knew the answer.

Whose vs. Who’s: Common Use 

Common Use Whose

As I said before, whose is used to show possession, so naturally, you would use it to talk about the man whose car is not working or to ask whose pencil was that.

For questions, if your answer will be his, hers, or theirs, then you should have whose as your first word.

Examples:

  • I know someone whose cat is missing.
  • Whose cat is missing?
  • My neighbor’s. You know, the one whose wife left him.

Common Use Who’s

Who’s is a contraction. In simple terms, who’s = who + is or who’s = who + has. It is not used in any other context, even if it is tempting to use it when talking about possession. You use it when you don’t want to say or type the whole thing, when you are talking fast, or in an informal context.

Examples:

  • I know a guy who’s in need of a ladder, can you help him out?
  • Who’s got time for all this writing?
  • Who’s gonna come to the concert with me tonight?
  • Are you the one who’s been singing all day long?

Trick to Remember 

The best way to remember the difference between who’s vs. whose is to remember their usage. Even easier, you only have to remember the usage of who’s: who’s is a contraction between two words. With that in mind, any time you want to use who’s and you are not sure if it’s the right word, just replace it with who is or who has and see if it makes any sense.

Example: “Who’s keys are those?” becomes Who is keys are those?” or Who has keys are those?”, which makes no sense, so the right word, in this case, would be whose.

Who’s up for some nachos?” becomes Who is up for some nachos?” This is the correct word, so it makes sense.

You could also remember a modified version of the first sentence of this article: Who’s the one whose keys I found? Remember this sentence and keep in mind that the words go from shortest to longest (whose vs who’s, not all the words) and you’re good to go. Personally, I find the first method to be the easiest one to remember.

Related Confused Words: Whose or Who’s

Understanding the differences between “whose” and “who’s” is pivotal for clear communication. This section breaks down the confusion surrounding these terms and their look-alikes, “whom” and “whom.”

Who’s vs. Whom

Who’s is a contraction for “who is” or “who has.” It can never be used to refer to possession. On the other hand, whom is a pronoun used as the object of a verb or preposition. Here’s a simple way to decide which to use: if you can replace the word with “he” or “she,” use who’s; if “him” or “her” fits, use whom.

  • Who’s excited for the movie? (Who is excited for the movie?)
  • To whom was the letter addressed? (The letter was addressed to him/her.)

Whose vs. Whom

Whose is the possessive form of “who,” used to describe to whom something belongs. Whom, as previously mentioned, is an object pronoun. Remember, “whose” always indicates ownership, and “whom” refers to someone as the object of the sentence.

  • Whose coat is this? (To whom does the coat belong?)
  • Whom did you see? (You saw him/her.)

Whose vs. Who’s Examples

Whose Examples

  1. Whose book is this lying on the table?
  2. She was the one whose proposal was accepted by the committee.
  3. The teacher asked the students whose project was ready to present first.
  4. They found a dog whose collar had no identification tags.
  5. The story is about a hero whose courage saved the kingdom.

Who’s Examples 

  1. Who’s going to the party tonight?
  2. I wonder who’s been using my laptop without permission.
  3. Who’s got the tickets for the concert?
  4. She’s the one who’s responsible for organizing the event.
  5. Do you know who’s leading the meeting today?

Whose vs. Who’s Exercise

Practice Questions

  1. ___ idea was it to order pizza for dinner?
  2. ___ responsible for locking the doors at night?
  3. ___ been using my computer without asking?
  4. ___ going to take the dog for a walk?
  5. ___ glasses are on the kitchen table?
  6. ___ going to make the presentation tomorrow?
  7. ___ birthday is coming up next week?
  8. ___ been telling stories about their travels?
  9. ___ supposed to pick up the groceries?
  10. ___ phone keeps ringing?

Answers

  1. Whose
  2. Who’s
  3. Who’s
  4. Who’s
  5. Whose
  6. Who’s
  7. Whose
  8. Who’s
  9. Who’s
  10. Whose

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between “who’s” and “whose”?
Who’s is a contraction for “who is” or “who has.” For example:

  • Who’s coming to the party tonight?
  • Who’s finished their homework?

In contrast, whose is the possessive form of “who” and sometimes “which” to indicate ownership. For example:

  • Whose book is this on the table?
  • Whose perspective do they share?

How can one remember when to use “whose” or “who’s”?
One can remember the difference by noting that contractions often have an apostrophe to replace omitted letters (who’s = who is/has). Whose, showing possession, never has an apostrophe.

Is it ever correct to use “who’s” to show possession?
No, “who’s” should never be used to indicate possession. Always use “whose” for possession.

Can “whose” be used in questions only?
Whose is not limited to questions; it can also be used in statements. For example:

  • I know someone whose expertise is in robotics.

Are “who’s” and “whose” interchangeable?
No, they are not interchangeable because they serve different grammatical purposes. “Who’s” is for contractions, and “whose” indicates possession.

Last Updated on December 6, 2023

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