Whose and whom: what’s the difference?
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Whose is the genitive of who. It shows a relationship of belonging. Whose is used in different ways:
1 – As an interrogative word, to ask who owns something:
- Whose book is on my bed?
- Whose umbrella is that?
- Whose pen is it?
2 – As a relative pronoun, in sentences where the relative subordinate expresses possession. It is always followed by a noun:
- That’s the boy whose bike is broken.
- This is Mrs Smith, whose husband died recently.
- Paul works with that other guy whose name I can’t remember.
⚠️ The noun that follows whose is never preceded by a determinant:
- This is the boy whose
thesister is my friend.
thebike is broken? Is it Tom’s bike or is it your bike?
⚠️ Whose should not be confused with who’s (which means ‘who is‘). Who’s is used to ask about identity, not possession:
- Who’s that girl?
- Whose sister is she?
Whom is also an interrogative pronoun, but it is used instead to replace the subject of a question (it is mainly used in formal English):
- Whom is this book about?
- Whom did Paul hired?
Whom is also used in statements instead of the subject of a clause. We say, for example:
- This is my friend whom I just told you about.
- She’s calling the friend with whom she is living.
⚠️ If the antecedent is not human, you have to use which:
- This is the house which I bought.