Who’s vs Whose – What’s The Difference?

If you’re mixing up who’s and whose, you’re not alone. They sound the same, and they look pretty similar, too. But they’re not the same. 

Who’s is a contraction that means “who is,” and whose is a possessive that shows ownership.

Still unclear? This little guide is here to help.

Who’s and whose are easy to confuse.

If you can’t keep them straight, don’t get the blues.

With this handy guide, you’ll know which to use.

I’ve got some tricks to remember them—that’s some good news!

Who’s Vs. Whose Key Takeaways

Here’s the bottom line:

  • Who’s is a contraction for “who is” or “who has.”
  • Whose means ‘who it belongs to’ —  it’s a possessive pronoun like his and hers.

(Yeah, staunch grammar nerds dislike ‘who it belongs to’ and say instead, ‘to whom it belongs,’ but we don’t have to be that proper.)

Who’s is a contraction that means “who is,” like the word he’s for “he is” or she’s for “she is.” It can also mean “who has.” You might use it in a question like: 

Who’s going to the party?  

(Who is going to the party?)

On the other hand, whose shows possession, like the words his and hers — it could be used in a question such as:

Whose house is the party at?

This question would be answered with another possessive pronoun. For example, “his house” or “our house.” 

Let’s take a look at some more examples.

Examples of Who’s

Since who’s is a contraction, it can always be swapped out for “who is” or “who has,” as in these examples:

Michael, who’s an English nerd, enjoys writing articles about grammar.

(Michael, who is an English nerd, enjoys writing articles about grammar.)

Who’s going to the store with Patricia?

(Who is going to the store with Patrica?)

Who’s been eating all the cookies?
(Who has been eating all the cookies?)

Author Name

It doesn’t matter who’s been eating the cookies.

(It doesn’t matter who has been eating the cookies.)

Examples of Whose

Since whose is a possessive pronoun, we can answer questions containing whose with other possessive pronouns, like my, your, his, her, or our. For example:

Whose article?

My article.

Whose trip looks the most fun?

Her trip looks the most fun.

Whose can also be used in sentences, not just questions: 

The person whose house this is must be rich!

Michael, whose article we’re reading, is an English nerd.

As a trick, try substituting “who is” or “who has” for whose, and it won’t work. For example, “Michael, who is article we’re reading” doesn’t make sense.

Using Who’s and Whose Together

Let’s check out a couple of examples of using who’s and whose in the same sentence. These two words will usually come up together in questions. 

Who’s going to be on whose team?

Whose kid is this who’s been eating all the birthday cake?

A Couple Tricks — How to Remember the Difference Between Who’s and Whose

Here’s a little trick, or mnemonic device, for remembering the difference between who’s and whose:

Imagine that the apostrophe in “who’s” is a little tiny letter i. (After all, that’s what it substitutes for.) That i would make who’s ‘whois,’ or who is, which is what who’s often means.

Here’s another trick. This one’s kinda funny, but sometimes that helps us remember things:

The word whose has the letters h-o-s-e, which spell the word hose. And with the word whose, you could ask the question “Whose hose?”

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