Who's Whose by Philip GoodenLiz here. I love reader/writer requests. Last week’s comments section yielded a request to highlight the difference between whose and who’s. Because, you know, there is one.

Whose is a possessive pronoun. If you have two sloppy roommates, you might wonder whose dirty socks are on the dining room table, or whose gross dishes are on the couch, or whose smelly feet stunk up the bathroom. You get the point.

Who’s is a contraction of who is. You might wonder who’s going to throw those dirty socks in the laundry, or who’s responsible for cleaning those dishes, or who’s going to clean their gross feet.

Overall, this is a prime example of a simple mistake that happens a lot in the blogosphere. Whether it’s who’s or whose, your or you’re, its or it’s, it is imperative that you double and triple check your prose. Editing may not be the most fun part of writing (unless you’re a weirdo like me who knows the Oxford comma by name), but it can be critical in being taken seriously as a writer.

If it is your goal to be published, then you need to take the same care in your editing as you do in your writing. A lot of us editors are sticklers for rules, and if you aren’t treating your grammar and usage with the same gravitas that you do with your character development, it won’t matter to us how heroic Jimmy was when he pulled his sisters out of they’re beds as the house burned down around them. (See?)

PRACTICE

Write about a pair/trio/septet of roommates having a disagreement. Use whose and who’s correctly to detail where the argument’s roots lie.

Write for fifteen minutes. When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section.

And if you post, make sure to comment on some other posts.

Have a good day!

Liz Bureman
Liz Bureman

Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she’s not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.