Who’s who(se)

Posted on Apr 20, 2012 | Comments Off on Who’s who(se)

The apostrophe is a talented little critter. Typically, adding an apostrophe and the letter “s” to a word makes it possessive. But an apostrophe can also indicate that letters have been omitted in a contraction. This dual purpose sometimes leads to confusion, and the who’s/whose conundrum is one example of this.

  • Who’s: “who is,” or occasionally, “who has”
  • Whose: possessive of the pronoun “who”

The confusion crops up because we don’t form the possessive of most personal pronouns (such as it, she, they and who) by adding an apostrophe and “s.” Instead, we use its, her, their and whose.

The easy way to determine whether to use who’s or whose is to see if you can substitute “who is.” If you can, use who’s (the contraction), but if it just doesn’t make sense, use whose (the possessive).

Now who’s right? You are.