Whose Who's – When to Use Who's versus Whose

Grammar refresher time again. Trouble remembering when to use whose versus who's? Here's a way to help you remember.

When you see "who's", say "who is". Make this a habit. When you need to test a sentence, say "who is" (or "who has") and see if it makes sense. If it does, you'll use "who's". If it doesn't, you'll use "whose".

For a more in-depth explanation of when to use each one along with examples, see below.


Whose is possessive. It shows ownership. So, in the following sentences, you would use "whose":

  • Whose shoes are behind the couch? (shoes are owned)
  • The man, whose name was not immediately released, was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center. (name is owned)
  • "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (line is owned)


Now for "who's" (you should've said "who is" when you read that):

  • Who's to blame for the heater not being turned on? (Who is to blame)
  • Amy is the only one on the team who's played in every game this year. (who has played)
  • Tim Shannon, who's worked in the roofing industry for many years, inspected the building's roof. (who has worked)

Bonus lesson: Confused about when to use it's versus its? Well, you can extend this lesson to its and it's. "It's" is "it is". The possessive form of the pronoun "it" does not use an apostrophe.

It's a rainy day. ("It is")
Its price is negotiable. (Can't say "It is" here, can you…)
When it comes down to it, it's all the same to me. ("it is all the same")
The company decided to discontinue its advertising. (advertising belongs to the company)

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