Who's vs. Whose: What's the Difference?


Posted by Chris Zhang

July 15, 2019 at 5:00 AM

SAT ACT Test Prep

Definitions

To start out, let’s first define who’s and whose: who’s - a contraction for “who is” or “who has” whose - a possessive pronoun meaning belonging to or associated with which person

Roots: Who and Whom

To understand when to use each word, one must first start from the basics: the root. The pronouns used as the roots of “who’s” and “whose” are “who” and “whom.”

“Who” and “whom” are similar in that you’ll use both when describing a person or when asking a question about which person did something. The difference between “who” and “whom” is that “who” is a subject pronoun so it will be the subject of a clause or phrase and “whom” is an object pronoun. Some other examples of subject pronouns are he/she/they, and some other examples of object pronouns are him/her/them.

For more help in the difference between “who” and “whom,” check out our website Prepmedians to learn more about proper usage between the two.

“Who” Examples:

  • Who called my phone?
  • Who asked you to prom?
  • Jed, who is a musician, only talks about being a musician.

“Whom” Examples:

  • Whom does Hannah B. love?
  • Whom do you believe?
  • Do you know with whom you will go to prom?

Usage and Examples

### Who’s “Who’s” is a contraction of either “who+is” or “who+has.” The apostrophe in the contraction of who’s stands for the missing letters of either “i” in who is or “ha” in who has.

Examples: - Who’s on right now? (Who is on right now?) - Who’s your one true love? (Who is your one true love?) - Who’s gone outside of the country? (Who has gone outside of the country?)

Whose

Whose is a possessive pronoun used in questions when asking about ownership of one thing.

Examples: - Whose side are you on? - Whose phone are you calling? - Whose song are you listening to?

#1 Tip for Remembering the Difference

It’s helpful and all to remember the definitions of “whose” and “who’s,” but proper usage can still elude even those who memorized the definitions. Here are 2 tips for remembering which one to correctly use: ### Plug in “who is” or “who has” One easy way for proper usage is to replace “who’s” or “whose” with “who is” or “who has.” Think of our first examples. Whose man is this? and Who’s Hannah going to give a rose to on the next week of the Bachelorette? Now replace both “whose” and “who’s” with “who is” or “who has” and see if it makes sense.

Who is man is this? No, that doesn’t seem right. It sounds too clunky so “whose” is probably the right choice. Whom is Hannah going to give a rose to on the next week of the Bachelorette? Yep, seems right. “Who’s” is the correct choice here.

Key Takeaways:

  • “Who’s” is a contraction of “who is” or “who “has.”
  • Whose is a possessive pronoun and another way of saying “belonging to whom”.
  • Plug in “who is” or “who has” in the blank; if either works, then “who’s” is the correct answer.

For more help on homophones, tricky pronouns, or any other material you might encounter on the SAT/ACT, check out our website Prepmedians to learn more about everything you need to know!

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Posted by Chris Zhang

Chris scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT in high school and is currently studying Economics and Data Science at Colby College. Fun fact: the only movie he ever cried in was Fast and Furious 7.