Difference between Whose and Who’s

Key Difference: Who’s is in fact a contraction of “who is”. Basically, who is gets shortened to who’s. Whose, on the other hand, is the possessive of “who”. It follows the rule similar to his, hers, and theirs.

WhoseThe English language can be quite confusing, especially for non-native speakers. Now, add to this words that look and sound similar but are actually different and meant to be used differently, then there is even more confusion, so much so that learner’s might actually give up learning the language completely. However, more often than not, it is usually quite similar to note the differences and tell them apart.

One of the general rules in English states that adding an apostrophe s ( ’s) to something marks the possessive, for example, Mary’s book or John’s party, both of which infer possessiveness, i.e. the book belongs to Mary, and that the party is being hosted by John. Following this rule may lead one to think that ‘who’s’ is the possessive of who. However, that is not the case.

Who’s is in fact a contraction of “who is”. Basically, who is gets shortened to who’s. It reflects the speech patterns of native speakers, as they rarely enunciate who and is separately, which instead gets amalgamated to who’s. 

Whose, on the other hand, is the possessive of “who”. It follows the rule similar to his, hers, and theirs. It implies ownership or possession of something. For example: “Whose crown is this?” The question is asking who does this crown belong to, hence ownership or possession.

Who'sA simple way of distinguishing between the two is to note that ‘who’s’ can be replaced in a sentence or phrase with ‘who is’. Similarly, ‘who is’ can be replaced with ‘who’s’. If the sentence does not work with ‘who is’, then the sentence may be incorrect, and you may be looking for ‘whose’ instead.

It should also be noted that ‘who’s’ is primarily used in the context of a person, and does not work for anything else. ‘Whose’, on the other hand, can be used in regard to inanimate objects or other non-person entities, and it works the same way every time.

Comparison between Whose and Who’s:

 

Whose

Who’s

Description

Whose is the possessive of “who” and ‘which’

Who's is a contraction of “who is” or, less commonly, “who has.”

Purpose

Use to imply possession or ownership

Who is gets shortened to who’s.

Application

May be applied to inanimate objects or other non-person entities

Typically applies only to people.

Examples

  • Whose book is this?
  • Whose brilliant idea was this?
  • A king whose crown is too big.
  • An animal whose fur changes color.
  • A word whose meaning escapes me.
  • Who’s coming to the party?
  • Guess who’s coming to dinner?
  • Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Who’s to blame?
  • Who's seen it?

 

Reference: Dictionary.com (Whose and Who’s), Grammarist, Grammar Monster,
e Learn English Language
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