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Confusing word choices

Who’s v whose

Rules are made to be broken. I break them regularly when I’m writing – especially when I need to make an impact.

Word choice and avoiding confusion – here's my quick tip on how to differentiate between who’s and whose

Sometimes a little creative license is acceptable. Other times it can detract from your credibility – even be cringeworthy. There’s nothing worse than re-reading an email you’ve already sent or a report that’s been published to find a glaring mistake. Not a simple typo, but a ‘confusable’ – demonstrating just how confused you really are.

So without further ado, let’s consider the not-so-subtle differences of this common confusable.

Who’s: A contraction – or shortened form – of who is or who has.

  • Who’s coming to today’s seminar, and who’s already been?

Whose: Possessive of who – belonging to him or her.

In most cases, apostrophes indicate ownership – possession. Whose is a rare exception to this rule. Its is another.

  • Who’s hosting the meeting, and whose office is it in?

Tip: To check you’ve used the correct word, spell any abbreviated words out in full. You’ll know immediately if you’ve got it wrong – as you can see in the example:

  • Who’s hosting the meeting, and who’s office is it in?
  • Who is hosting the meeting, and who is office is it in?

Check out more ‘confusable’ solutions without the confusing grammatical theory here.

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