Whose

'Whose' is related to possession and association, used to ask which person owns or is responsible. In this lesson, we will learn its uses and structures.

How to Use ''Whose'' in the English Grammar

Whose is one of the most controversial words in English. Here, we have covered its functions:

Now, we will learn them one by one:

1. 'Whose' as an Interrogative Determiner

Use

Whose as an interrogative determiner is used to ask about someone’s possession. Whose as an interrogative determiner must be followed by a noun or a noun phrase. For example:

These shoes are mine. → Whose shoes are these?

'Whose' replaces the possessive pronoun 'mine.'

Position in a Sentence

Whose as an interrogative determiner comes at the beginning of an interrogative sentence. In this case, inversion is needed.
How to make the inversion?
1. The possessive pronoun is omitted and the interrogative determiner whose comes at the beginning of the interrogative sentence;
2. The noun or noun phrase comes after whose;
3. The verb and the subject are inverted.
For example:

These shoes are mine. → Whose shoes are these?

Whose book is this?

'Whose' comes at the beginning of the interrogative sentence.

2. 'Whose' as an Interrogative Pronoun

Use

Whose as an interrogative pronoun is used to ask about someone's or something's possession. It replaces possessive determiners and the following noun or possessive pronouns. Take a look at these examples:

These are my shoes. /These are mine. → Whose are these?

'Whose' replaces 'my shoes.'

This is my book. → Whose is this?

Position in a Sentence

Whose as an interrogative pronoun comes at the beginning of the interrogative statement. In this case, we require inversion.
To make the inversion, two steps should be taken:
1. The possessive pronoun or the possessive determiner with the following noun is left out and the interrogative pronoun whose comes at the beginning of the interrogative sentence;
2. The verb and the subject are inverted.
Look at some examples:

These are my shoes. /These are mine. → Whose are these?

This is my book. → Whose is this?

'Whose' is an interrogative pronoun, so there is an inversion in this example.

3. 'Whose' as a Relative Pronoun

Use

Whose as a relative pronoun shows someone's or something's possessions and heads an adjectival relative clause that describes the preceding noun or noun phrase. For example:

This is the man whose book you are holding.

'Whose book you are holding' is an adjective clause, describing 'the man.'

I know a car whose wheels don't work.

Position in a Sentence

Whose as a relative pronoun always marks an adjective clause.
For example:

This is the man whose book you are holding.

'Whose' heads 'whose book you are holding.'

I know a car whose wheels don't work.

'Whose' is a relative pronoun introducing an adjective clause.

Tip

Whose is the only relative pronoun that precedes nouns or noun phrases. Compare:

The man who works here is my friend.

The man whose eyes are blue is my friend.

4. 'Whose' as a Possessive Relative Determiner

Use

Whose as a possessive relative determiner shows possession and heads a nominal relative clause. The nominal relative clause acts as an object or a subject for the independent clause. For example:

I don't know whose book you have.

'Whose book you have' is a nominal relative clause acting as an object for 'I don't know.'

Whose cellphone you use, doesn't matter.

'Whose cellphone you use' is the subject of 'doesn't matter.'

Position in a Sentence

Whose as a possessive relative determiner always comes at the beginning of the nominal relative clause. Look at these examples:

I don’t know whose book you have.

'Whose' as a possessive relative determiner always heads the nominal relative clause.

Whose cellphone you use, doesn't matter.

'Whose' comes before the nominal relative clause.

Tip

Whose as a possessive relative determiner, a relative pronoun, and an interrogative determiner must be followed by a noun.

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