who's vs whose

Whose vs Who’s

These two words are pronounced exactly the same, but they are used in different ways. 


“Whose” is a pronoun often used as an adjective to show possession, or what belongs to someone. 

In the question, “Whose book is this?” “whose” asks “to whom” does this book belong?

You can use this combination with other things and people:

“Whose house is that?”

“Whose sneakers are these?”

“Whose mom is that?”

Here are more examples:

“Michael, whose father owns a restaurant, is training to be a chef.”

  • Here, “whose” refers to Michael’s relationship to “father”. It cannot be easily translated but there is a connection between Michael “belonging” to his father.

“Whose parents were at the party?” 

  • Here, “whose” refers to the ones related to the parents. The meaning is like asking, “The parents of which children were at the party?” This is not a natural question but it shows how “whose” is used. It is similar to asking, “Which parents were at the party?” 


“Who’s” is a contraction of the two words, “who” + is, or “who + the auxiliary verb, “has”. 

This form of “who’s” always refers to someone in the 3rd person singular (he/she/it). 

 WHO + is:

“Who’s going to the store?” = Who is going to the store?

“Who’s she?” = Who is she?

“Who’s that man over there?” = Who is that man over there? 

WHO + has:

“Who’s bought a new car?” = Who has bought a new car?

“Who’s ever visited China?” = Who has ever visited China?

“Who’s got to leave the party early?” = Who has got to leave the party early?


Both contracted and longer forms of who + is and who + has are correct in speaking. 

In formal writing, it is best to avoid contractions and write out the noun/pronoun and the verb. 

NOTE: “who” + has can only be contracted when it is the auxiliary (helping) verb. When “has” is the main verb, it must be written out to avoid confusion:

NO: “Who’s my pen?” 

YES: “Who has my pen?”

YES: “Who’s got my pen” (There, “has” is an auxiliary verb.)