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Write Better by Mastering Whose and Who's

Updated on August 2, 2011
Who, Who's, Whose
Who, Who's, Whose | Source

Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Everyone needs to learn the correct usage of the homophones whose and who's to be a better writer.

Study the Difference Between Who's and Whose

You can tell by the spelling that who's is a contraction of who is (or sometimes, a contraction for who has). It means the same as who is. For example, "who's that man over there ?" is correct. It's the short form for "who is that man..." But "whose that man over there?" is incorrect. Whose is not a verb form but is the possessive form of the pronoun who. Whose means who does that belong to?

Whose is Possessive

Asking "whose your daddy" is incorrect. The question should be "who's your daddy," as in "who is your daddy?" Whose can be used with or without a following noun. You could ask "whose is that?" pointing to an umbrella, or you could ask "whose umbrella is that? Again "whose" is possessive while "who's" is a contraction normally meaning who is.

Test by Substituting "Who is" for Who's

So when you are not sure which to use in writing, try the contraction by using its full form, "who is" and if that is correct then it's the contraction "who's" that you need. But if using "who is" doesn't make sense, then your choice should be "whose." Remember, "whose" is possessive; "who's" is a contraction of "who is."

Practice with More Examples

Study a few more examples to make sure you've got it. "Who's on first base?" is correct because "WHO IS on first base?" is correct. "Whose that in the rain?" is NOT correct because "WHO IS that in the rain is correct. So it should be "Who's that in the rain?" Now "whose car is that?" must be correct because "who is car is that" doesn't make sense, so it couldn't be "Who's car is that?"

Use Grammar Resources to Improve Your Writing

If you need additional work with this issue please see the articles below. Most are short and they can help you write better using homophones correctly. Plus some contain other helpful information on grammar.

Go to these web sources to learn more:
WSU - Who's/Whose
English Plus Grammar


eLearn English - Who's, Whose


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    • Rob McKelvie profile image

      Rob McKelvie 6 years ago from USA and UK

      Thanks for your feedback everyone! K -- I don't know what kind of owl, but I do think it's beautiful.

    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 6 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      I love the picture. Is that an elf owl?

    • Roy Perrin profile image

      Roy Perrin 6 years ago from Jacksonville, NC

      Great information for those of us who actually want to write more correctly. I haven't personally had much trouble with this particular homophone, but there are others that follow the same types of rules. Good job.