Tag Archives: it’s

WHO’S vs. WHOSE (with a little IT’S vs. ITS thrown in)

When I am asked what is the most prevalent mistake I see, I don’t have to stop and think about it: without doubt, it is ITS vs. IT’S. If you can’t substitute IT IS or IT HAS, you want the possessive ITS (as in “The kitten took its first steps today”).

You should apply the same test to WHOSE and WHO’S: if you can’t substitute WHO IS or WHO HAS, you need the possessive WHOSE.

Test yourself:

1.     Papa Bear roared, “WHOSE/WHO’S been sitting in my chair?”

2.     Priority seating will be given to those WHO’S/WHOSE applications were received first.

3.     I would like to know WHOSE/WHO’S read a good book recently.

4.     My Aunt Irene is a person WHO’S/WHOSE advice I value.

5.     ITS/IT’S been humid on the East Coast recently.

6.     The Yorkshire terrier yanked IT’S/ITS leash out of IT’S/ITS owner’s hand and ran to the neighbors’ house.

 

How did you do? Was this difficult for you? In each sentence, the correct answer is the second option.

 

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Its Frustrating!

Last night my husband and I went to a lovely concert, a tenor singing Shubert’s “Winterreisse” (“Winter Journey”) a series of beautiful and sad songs accompanied by a piano.  The program seemed so fitting for a cold night.  The songs were written and sung in German, but on the wall above the singer an English translation was projected.

Being the grammatically compulsive person I am, I had to bring myself back to the music and try to ignore the fact that every time the word “its” was needed, “it’s” was written.

If it doesn’t mean “it is” or “it has,” you want “its,” the possessive form:

“It’s been cold and snowy in the East.”  <——It has

“It’s cold even here in Los Angeles.”  <——-It is

“The tree dropped its leaves.”  <——-Possessive.  The leaves belong to the tree.

People get confused because in English possessive nouns do take apostrophes.  But possessive pronouns never do:

Hers, his, ours, theirs, yours—hold the apostrophes!

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