Who’s vs Whose

Who's watching whose dog?
Who’s watching whose dog?
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Who knows the difference between who’s and whose? Here’s a lesson whose time has come.


Who’s is a contraction of “who is”  It may be followed by a present participle, adjective, noun, or pronoun.

Who’s watching TV?

Do you know who’s going to speak?

Who’s ready to go?

Who’s in the kitchen?

Who’s your doctor?

Who’s this?

Less commonly, who’s is a contraction of "who has."

Who’s already eaten?

Who’s been here before?

Who’s been watching that show?


Whose is the possessive of “who” or, somewhat controversially, “which.” It’s always followed by a noun.

Whose book is this?

Do you know whose car this is?

I know a woman whose kids study there.

Whose side are you on?

An idea whose time has come.

The Bottom Line

The trouble here is due to the apostrophe, which on 99% of English words indicates possession, but on this one simply indicates a contraction. If you can replace the word with who is or who has, use who’s. If not, use whose.

Related difficulties

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Who's vs whose

4 Responses

  1. Susan S. 12 February 2014 / 00:51

    You have saved the day for me, more than once, Laura – thank you!

    Susan S.

  2. Bill R. 5 April 2014 / 07:04

    You’re correct that normally the apostrophe indicates possession, but not in the case of who’s where it only indicates a contraction. This is so misused, that when whose is properly placed on a sign or announcement, it is questioned more than if who’s is improperly used. Case in point:
    “Look whose birthday is today!” when placed on a sign will invariably garner more questions of misuse than if who’s was used.

  3. Paul 17 June 2014 / 15:56

    My phone even assumes the use of who’s as opposed to whose and it bugs the snot out of me to be required to correct it when the phone auto “corrects” it.

  4. Joe 25 August 2014 / 20:29

    I taught students: “If ‘his’ doesn’t have an apostrophe neither can hers, ours, theirs, yours, its (my favorite), whose, and naturally my and mine.”

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