Who’s is a contraction of “who is” or “who has”. “Whose” is a question word we use to ask who owns something.
Both who’s and whose come from the pronoun that is who. Both words sound exactly the same when you are speaking, but the spelling is where the difference comes in. These two words are so similar that even the best writers can have a hard time remembering which is which.
The rules of when to use each word are pretty simple once you understand them, but until then the words can bring you a lot of confusion.
The words are homophones, but they can’t be used interchangeably as most people think. They have different meanings as who’s is two words crunched into one and whose is just one word.
Who’s Meaning and Use
Who’s is a contraction of the words who is or who has. The apostrophe in the word represents the letters that are missing from is and has when the two words are combined. You will use who’s when you would normally say who is or who has.
Who’s going to the dinner party?
Who’s seen that movie already?
Who’s picking you up from the airport?
Who’s the best person to help me with my math?
Whose Meaning and Use
Whose is considered to be a possessive pronoun. You will use this word when you are asking who owns something. For example, if you are asking who the nice car, you would say, “Whose nice car is that?”
You would also use this word when you find something, and you don’t know who it belongs to. Asking whose item it is will be the proper way to find out who owns it, not who’s.
Whose kitten is this?
Whose car are we taking?
Whose shoes are in the middle of the floor?
Whose homework is this?
Who’s or Whose?
Determining which word you are supposed to use can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Take a look at some of these examples that can help you out!
Example: Who is in third place?
Correct: Who’s in third place?
Whose in third place?
Example: Who owns these shoes?
Correct: Whose shoes are these?
Who’s shoes are those.
Example: Who is staying for dinner?
Correct: Who’s staying for dinner?
Whose staying for dinner?
Example: Who owns the car blocking the driveway?
Correct: Whose car is blocking the driveway?
Who’s car is blocking the driveway?
Remembering the Difference
Who’s and whose get mixed up just like the words it’s and its. It’s is a contraction of it is or it has, and its is the possessive form, just like who’s and whose. One simple way to keep these words apart is by remembering that possessive adjectives don’t usually have an apostrophe (mine, yours, theirs, etc.).
It can be overwhelming trying to remember the difference between these two words, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a few tricks that you can keep in mind to help you remember which to use when.
First, say what you are trying to say out loud. If you can say who is or who has and the sentence still makes sense, use who’s. If the sentence doesn’t make sense, use whose.
Next, think of what comes after the word. Whose is a possessive word and will usually be followed by a noun. If a noun comes immediately after the word, you should use whose. If there’s no noun, use who’s.
Finally, consider whether or not the word you are using is supposed to be a contraction. Who’s is a contraction, while whose is not. The apostrophe in the contraction stands for the missing letters, and whose doesn’t have any.