Grammar Tip – Whose Versus Who’s

BizWritingTip reader: “I never know when it is correct to use the word ‘whose.’ Can you please clarify this word’s proper usage?”

BizWritingTip response: “Whose” is the possessive form for the word “who.” It will always be followed by a noun (person, place or thing).

Whose proposal was chosen?
Whose idea was it?

In addition, when combining thoughts, you would also use “whose” to replace a possessive noun or a possessive pronoun (his, her, your, its, their, etc.).

The vice president presented the plan to the board. His background is quite impressive.
The vice president, whose background is quite impressive, presented his plan to the board.

Note: I have noticed some writers confuse “whose” with “who’s.” “Who’s” is a contraction for “who is” or “who has.”

Who’s been hired? (Who has been hired?)
Who’s the most trained person? (Who is the most trained person?)

If you are ever confused as to whether to use “whose” or “who’s,” mentally insert the words “who is.” If you can, then you know to use the contraction “who’s.” If you can’t, then use “whose.”

I trust everyone, whose knowledge of this rule was limited, now understands its usage.