Whose vs Who’s: Difference and Comparison

We confuse many words with their spellings, usage, and grammar. Whose and who’s are also the most confused words. And many of us still feel confused with the usage of these words.

In English, usually, a word followed by an apostrophe “s” indicates that it is the possessive form of that word. On contrary, who’s is the contraction of “who is”.

While whose word is used to describe who owns that particular thing. And whose is the possessive form of the word “who”.

Key Takeaways

  1. “Whose” is a possessive pronoun, indicating ownership or association, while “who’s” is a contraction for “who is” or “who has”.
  2. Use “whose” to ask about possession or relationships and “who’s” to inquire about identity or actions.
  3. Examples: “Whose coat is this?” vs. “Who’s going to the party?”

Whose vs Who’s

Whose is a possessive pronoun that is used to show ownership or possession. For example: Whose car is this? or “I don’t know whose book that is. Who’s is a compaction of the words who and is or who and has. For example: Who’s going to the club tonight? Or Who’s been eating my food?

Whose vs Whos
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The word ‘whose’ is the possessive form of the word ‘who’. Whose means, to relate something to someone or something. Whose is the possessive pronoun and sometimes acts as an adjective.

As mentioned, the meaning of ‘whose’ is ‘who owns something’. Here whose is used to describe that a noun or a pronoun is owning something.

Who’s is simply the contraction of the combination of words, who and is, or who and has. Generally, words with apostrophe ‘s’ are regarded to be possessive forms of the initial word but it is not applicable in the of “who’s”.

‘Who’ comes under the pronoun in parts of speech. It is referred to as a subject pronoun, similar to he, she, or they. And ‘who’ is also used in interrogative sentences too.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonWhoseWho’s
MeaningWhose is used to refer that something belongs to something or someone.Who’s is the short form of who has.
Parts of speechMost used as an adjective.Is referred to as the subject pronoun.
Derived fromWhose is the possessive form of ‘who’.Who’s = who + is         (or) Who’s = who + has
Other‘Whose’ refers to ownership.“who’s” refers to who with an auxiliary verb i.e. is or has.
ExamplesWhose mobile is this?Who’s going to have this dish?

What is Whose?

Usually, possessive forms are framed by adding apostrophe ‘s’ to the actual word. But in the case of the word ‘who’ it is different. The word ‘whose’ is the possessive form of the pronoun who.

It is seen in interrogative sentences. Whose is an adjective since it describes the noun or the pronoun in questioning sentences. But it is also considered a pronoun in some sentences.

The meaning of the word ‘whose’ is, to whom something belongs to or it refers to the ownership of something. Whose is regarding the possession of noun or pronoun.

‘Whose’ is the possessive adjective that describes a noun or a pronoun that owns or belongs to something. “Mr. Roy, whose puppy is cute, has come. “

In the above example, we are explaining to the listener which person’s puppy we are talking about. And gradually ‘whose’ has been used to describe things and things belonging to inanimate places.

Examples:

  • Whose dog is running over there?
  • The smoke came from the volcano, whose light is bright as Sun.
  • Whose pencil is this ?
  • Whose flat are we going to?
  • Whose shoes are these ?
  • Whose name did the principal call?
  • She went home on whose bicycle ?
  • Whose job was that to clean the tables?

What is Who’s?

The word “who’s” is the contraction of two words, who and is/was/has. Who’s is simply the short form of the two words. The meaning of “who’s” is the same as the words ‘who’ and ‘is/was/has’.

  • Who’s = Who + is
  • Who’s = Who + was
  • Who’s = Who + has

As we know that a word inclusive with an apostrophe ‘s’ gives us a possessive of that word. People confuse that the word ‘Who’s” is the possessive form of the word ‘who’.

But “who’s” is just the contraction of ‘Who’ and ‘is’. Similar to “it” and “is” can be written as “It’s”, “can” and “not” is written as “can’t”. The word “who’s” is considered as a pronoun. And the contraction is frequently seen in interrogative sentences.

The substitution method works better, to get clarity from the confusion in the two words i.e. Whose and Who’s. If you are stuck in the usage of these words, then replace the word whose and try reading it and then again replace it with “who’s” and “who is”.

Then you will understand the difference in the meaning.

Examples:

  • My uncle is someone who’s living in Britain.
  • Who’s hungry for food?
  • My teacher told me who’s attending the seminar.
  • Who’s coming to my house? = Who is coming to my house?

Main Differences Between Whose and Who’s

  1. The word ‘Whose’ means that something or someone owns something. While “who’s” means who is or who has (contracted form of who is).
  2. Though both are used to frame interrogative sentences, ‘whose’ is an adjective and “who’s” is a pronoun.
  3. The word ‘whose’ is the possessive form of the word ‘who’. While the word “who’s” is the contraction of who and is or has.
  4. Whose sandals?
        – whom do these sandals belong to ?
    Who’s coming to the party?
        – who is coming to the party ?
  5. Examples of ‘whose’ –
    Whose dog bite my child?
    Whose pencil is this ?
    Examples of “who’s” –
    She’s my aunt, who’s living in California.
    Who’s going to come with me?
Difference Between Whose and Whos
References
  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2501/S0265048708080268
  2. https://ojs.library.queensu.ca/index.php/CRI/article/view/6997

Last Updated : 16 July, 2023

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