Our friend Curtis Thomas asked “When should I use whose as opposed to who’s? I think the answer is a simple one, but I have not been able to figure it out.”
“Who’s” is a contraction for “Who is.” If you can restate the sentence or question into “who is,” then you can use “who’s”:
“Okay. Who’s paying for the pizza?”
“Okay. Who is paying for the pizza?”
Yeah. That works.
“Whose” is a possessive form of “who.” It’s basically short for “Who does this [whatever] belong to?”
“Hey. I found a wallet. Whose wallet is this?”
“Hey. I found a wallet. Who does this wallet belong to?”
Yup. That works. But look at this:
“Hey. I found a wallet. Who’s wallet is this?”
“Hey. I found a wallet. Who is wallet is this?”
Nope. Nope. Nope. That doesn’t work. At all. In fact, it sounds funny.
One’s a contraction. One’s a possessive.
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