Grammar Trap: Whose vs. Who's

People confuse these two words when writing because they sound the same when speaking--and, as always, that's confusing.

"Whose" is really the possessive form of "who."

Examples: Whose umbrella should I borrow today? I can't remember whose umbrella this is.

"Who's" is the contraction of "who is" or "who has."

Examples: Who's knocking at my door? I don't know who's been knocking at my door in the middle of the night.

Do you have a grammar (or usage) trap you’d like to see discussed? Do you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid one? If so, please let me know.

Do you have a Grammar Trap idea? Do you want On Target to cover a topic that interests you? E-mail your ideas to Kevin Leigh Smith.

Visit our archive for past "Grammar Traps."

We want to hear from you. Do you have a communication question? Do you have a comment on this issue of On Target? If so, please e-mail any of our writers, or simply reply to this e-mail.

© 2005 Purdue University EEO Statement