The rules of when to use whose and when to use who’s are simple, but they can be difficult to remember because they seem to violate how apostrophes usually work. Don’t worry—we’ll teach you a trick to remember the difference whose and who’s in this post.
While words ending with an apostrophe and an S (i.e., the man’s car) are usually possessive, in the case of whose vs. who’s, whose is actually the possessive form.
Whose is a possessive adjective, which means it describes who owns something.
Who’s is a contraction of either who is or who has.
How to remember the difference
A good way to tell whether you should use whose or who’s is to substitute who is or who has in their place. If the sentence makes sense with this substitution, then you should use who’s. If it doesn’t, then you should go with whose. Here are some examples:
- “Who’s the best at math?”
This sentence uses who’s because you can substitute who is. “Who is the best at math?” still makes sense.
- “Whose math homework is this?”
This sentence uses whose because it doesn’t make sense when you substitute who is and get “Who is math homework is this?” Whose, in this case, is asking who the math homework belongs to.
Whose vs. who’s seems complicated, but once you know the rules, it’s easy to tell when to use which. Who’s got the power to tell the difference between whose and who’s? You do!
This post was written by Maud Grauer. She is a content creator and book editor for Dot and Dash. You can read more of her writing on the Dot and Dash blog: www.dotanddashllc.com/blog