Whose and Who’s

I ran across a specification for a “data logger whose data can be downloaded.”

The word “whose” is the possessive form of “who” and not a possessive form of “what.”

                          Person        Thing
Pronoun          Who             What
Possessive      Whose          of Which

That means if you use “whose,” then the entity owning the item has to be a person, not a thing. A data logger is not a person, it is an instrument; thus, it is a thing. So how would we say this, then?

Corrected Example:
… data logger from which data can be downloaded.

Person Example:
The geologist, whose report was deleted from the server, went ballistic.

Bad Non-Human Example:
The report, whose author went ballistic, was later restored.

Corrected Non-Human Example:
The report, the author of which went ballistic, was later restored.

Think of the Dr. Seuss book The Cat in the Hat Comes Back:
“Whose shoes did he use? I looked and saw whose.
And I said to the cat, ‘This is very bad news.
Now the spot is all over dad’s 10 dollar shoes!’”

In this example, “whose” is a pronoun for “dad’s” and dad is a person. OK. Good to go.
However, you would not use “whose” for a cat.

Who’s
Then what about who’s? This is not a possessive; it is a contraction for “who is” or possibly “who has.”

Examples:
Who’s going to tell the geologist that the report cannot be restored?
Who is going to tell the geologist that the report cannot be restored?

The geologist is taking the person who’s restored the report out to lunch at Chez Louis.
The geologist is taking the person who has restored the report out to lunch at Chez Louis.

Who’s going to use “whose” for a non-human use? Not you.

————————————–
Kids Say the Darnedest Things:

I was judging the narratives and essays for the Future City competition last evening, and one narrative said:
“Our city is home to people of all kinds of occupations, from intellectuals to engineers, ….”
I busted up laughing. Apparently these middle school students consider intellectuals and engineers at the opposite ends of the human spectrum.

——————————————

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: