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The difference between the use of whose and who’s is similar to that between the use of its and it’s (discussed here).

whose – the possessive form of whom.

“The director, whose shares were recently acquired by the company, resigned last week.”

who’s – a contraction of who is. When you see the apostrophe, think “who is”.

“The plaintiff, who’s suing the defendant, is represented by a very competent counsel.”

Greg Poehler

Gregory M. Poehler, B.A., J.D.
Born: Boston, MA (USA). Admitted to the New York and Massachusetts Bars and the United States Federal Courts for the Southern District of New York and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Practiced in two large law firms in New York City with a specialization in intellectual property law, including trademark, copyright and patent litigation and domain name dispute resolution. Masters in European Intellectual Property Law, Stockholm University (2006).

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Whose can also be for non-living things – “the company, whose assets were seized”. This should be made clear.

  2. I am designing a page for my school yearbook. The page is supposedly called “Whose Who,” but I have my doubts. I am confused whether I should type it “Whose” or “Who’s.” Thanks.

  3. Sydney,

    Many thanks for your question. The page should be titled “Who’s who” (or the contracted form of “Who is Who”). “Who’s who” is commonly used as the title for something which contains biographical information on a particular group of people.

  4. To say ‘Whose Who’, would mean ‘whose who is this?’.
    ‘Who’s Who’ states ‘who is who’. It doesn’t neccessarily need a question mark.

  5. Yes. The correct usage would be “Who’s.”
    What you are trying to say is “Who is who” so you should use the contraction form.

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