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Welcome to this week's writing lesson from

 MyEnglishTeacher.net

 

 

Who's Whose?

Lesson Topic: Possession, Contractions, Apostrophes ('), and Adding S

Look at the following sentence and decide which word to use: whose or who's

Who's     book is this?
Whose  

We won't tell you the answer yet. 

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First, let us begin with possession.  If that book belongs to Marvin, we can say

That is Marvin's book. 

When we are talking about possession, we add an apostrophe and an s: 's

Marvin is a boy.  Because Marvin is a boy, we can also use the possessive adjective his.  Therefore, we can write

That is his book.

The possessive adjectives are as follows:

This is

my  book.
your
his
her
our
their
its

Notice that NONE of these possession words have 's.  However, if the word is a name, you use 's.  For example,

This is her book.
This is Joan's book.

The word Joan's has another meaning: it is a contraction for Joan is.  For example,

Joan is a good girl.
Joan's a good girl.

Therefore, 's can be used for possession or contractions. 

Now, here is the tricky part: for the words who and it, adding 's has only one use—to show contractions.

no apostrophe   with apostrophe
Sam is here. >>> Sam's here.
Who is here? >>> Who's here?
It is here. >>> It's here.

To show possession, who and it have other words (notice there are no apostrophes):

for who, use whose >>> Whose book is on the table?
for it, use its >>> Its food is in the box.

.

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So, now let's go back to the question we first gave you at the top of this lesson:

Who's     book is this?
Whose  

Which word should we use?  Since who's means who is, ask yourself, "Could I say the following sentence: Who is book is this?"  Of course, not.  Is the question asking about possession?  Yes.  Therefore, the answer is whose.

We can now update the list of possessive adjectives from above.  Whose is a possessive adjective too.

LOOK!WHOSE is also a possessive adjective!

my
your
his
her
our
their
its
whose

Last, if a name ends in s and you want to add 's to show possession, you can just add just an apostrophe (') or an apostrophe and s ('s).  Both forms are correct.  For example

CORRECT This is Chris' school.
CORRECT This is Chris's school.

Quiz 

Directions:  Read the following sentences.  Choose the correct word.

  1. Who's/Whose absent from school today?

  2. I met a woman who's/whose husband is a college professor.

  3. That's nothing!  I met a woman who's/whose the CEO of a billion-dollar corporation.

  4. Her name is Martha Stewart.  Marthas/Martha's/Marthas' home is in New York State.

  5. Its/It's a very large house who's/whose landscape is absolutely exquisite.

  6. The Jones'/Jones's/Jones new car is parked outside.

  7. The car is small, but its/it's engine is a 300-horse-power motor.

  8. I want to know who's/whose at the door.

  9. Its/It's the mailman.

  10. Emily is a girl who's/whose my friend.

  11. American comedic team Abbot and Costello were famous for their skit "Who's/Whose on First?"

  12. A: I am the boss!
    B: Hmm.  Who's/Whose boss?

 



 

The answers are in red.

  1. Who's absent from school today?
    There is no possession he
    re.

  2. I met a woman whose husband is a college professor.
    Whose represents woman; husband belongs to the woman.  The part of the sentence following whose is an adjective clause.  For more information about adjective clauses with whose, click here.

  3. That's nothing!  I met a woman who's the CEO of a billion-dollar corporation.
    There is no possession here.

  4. Her name is Martha Stewart.  Martha's home is in New York State.
    This is possession. The home belongs to Martha. 

  5. It's a very large house whose landscape is absolutely exquisite.
    It's is a contraction.  Whose represents house; the landscape belongs to the house.  The part of the sentence following whose is an adjective clause.  For more information about adjective clauses with whose, click here.

  6. The Jones'/Jones's new car is parked outside.
    Jones is a name which ends in s.  This is also possession.  Therefore, both forms are correct.

  7. The car is small, but its engine is a 300-horse-power motor.
    Its represents car; the engine belongs to the car.

  8. I want to know who's at the door.
    Who's is a contraction.

  9. It's the mailman.
    It's is a contraction. 

  10. Emily is a girl who's my friend.
    Who's is a contraction.

  11. American comedic team Abbot and Costello were famous for their skit "Who's/Whose on First?"
    Who's is a contraction.

  12. A: I am the boss!
    B: Hmm.  Who's/Whose boss?
    There is no absolute answer here.  They could both be answers.  Why?  Because person B may be asking sarcastically and in disbelief "Who is boss?"  On the other hand, person B might be asking "You are the boss of whom?"  Therefore, no one knows the correct answer. 

  Rules to Remember!

1 The 's is used for both possession and contractions.  However, the words who and it have different forms for both possession and contractions.
  possession contraction
who whose who's
it its it's
2

The words my, your, his, her, our, their, its, and whose are all possessive adjectives.  None of these words have an apostrophe.

3 Adjective clauses can begin with both whose and who's.  For more information on adjective clauses with whose click here.

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