Whose and who’s are related words but are entirely different from each other. The confusion between the two is understandable; they sound the same and are spelled almost the same. Whose is the possessive form of who and shows the relationship between a person or thing and something that belongs to them. Moreover, it can be used as a determiner or a pronoun.
On the other hand, who’s is the contraction of “who is” or “who has.” Hence, whose shouldn’t be confused with “who’s,” which is the short form of “who is” or “who has.” To avoid confusion between the two, if replacing it with “who is” or “who has” doesn’t make sense, it may be whose.
When to Use Whose
We use whose as a pronoun or determiner to show the relationship between a person or thing and something belonging to it. Moreover, it’s used to ask which person or people a particular thing belongs to and to give additional information about a person or thing.
To ask a question about possession
What about this umbrella? Whose is this?
Whose little boy is he?
To show belongingness between two objects
That’s the tenant whose keys got lost.
I have close friends whose values align with mine.
Clem lives in a house whose roof needs immediate repair.
To give additional information about a person or thing
Hikari, whose bag got stolen, went to the police station.
The students, whose last day is today, are celebrating.
The dog, whose appetite changed, was brought to a veterinary clinic.
Whose and Inanimate Objects
When we say inanimate objects, they refer to items that aren’t alive, such as rocks, books, chairs, etc. These objects don’t have any life in them.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, we can use whose for inanimate objects. While there were rules saying that whose cannot be used to describe things or places belonging to inanimate objects, it’s become grammatically acceptable over time.
In the following examples, the underlined words are inanimate objects followed by whose.
The rock, whose surface is rough, has a unique color.
We encountered a car whose horn was too loud.
I like books whose covers are pretty.
When to Use Who’s
We use who’s when using the short form of the words “who is” or “who has.” For these words, the apostrophe shows the shortening of words, which is called contraction and doesn’t indicate possession.
The contraction of “who is”
Who’s talking with Sam on the phone?
Amari is the person who’s supposed to organize the meeting.
Who’s the person we should ask for assistance?
The contraction of “who has”
Who’s seen a movie in the theater recently?
Did you say that the woman who’s been singing is a famous artist?
The girl who’s walked with me is my neighbor.
Whose vs. Who’s: What’s the Difference?
The difference between whose and who’s is that the former is the possessive form of the pronoun who, and the latter is the short form of the words “who is” or “who has.” While both may sound the same, they are different. Avoid confusing whose with who’s by remembering that if the word cannot be replaced by “who is” or “who has,” use whose.
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Whose. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/whose
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online. (n.d.). Who’s. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/who-s
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). You Can Use ‘Whose’ for Things. In Merriam-Webster.comdictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/whose-used-for-inanimate-objects
Macmillan Dictionary. (n.d.) Whose. In https://www.macmillandictionary.com/ dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/whose