Professional Style

Who’s vs. Whose

July 2012
Spot the Error

That camera is not mine; I’m not sure who’s it is.

Don’t you just love homophones … there, their, they’reto, too, two … and, in this case, who’s and whose. It can be confusing. To be quite honest, who’s and whose always make me stop and think.

While an apostrophe followed by an “s” can signify possession (as in Kramer’s hair and Newman’s sneer), the apostrophe followed by an “s” in who’s signifies the contraction who is. Example:

My uncle Jacob, who’s also my mentor, came to dinner last night.

The possessive of the word who is whose. Consequently, in the camera sentence above, the correct word is whose.

Keep in mind, the word who’s always means who is. No exceptions. One way to remember the difference between who’s and whose is to view the apostrophe as a tiny, little “i”—whois or who is.

Got it? Who’s with me?

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