whose

whose
whose
1. Despite a long-established folk-belief (which Fowler deplored) that whose, when used as a relative, should only mean of whom and not of which, usage over several centuries from the time of Shakespeare and Milton supports its use with reference to inanimate things as well as to people. Fowler, quoting the opening lines of Paradise Lost (Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste Brought death into the world), insisted that ‘good writing is surely difficult enough without the forbidding of things that have historical grammar, and present intelligibility, and obvious convenience, on their side’, a verdict that still has the ring of good sense. The following modern examples show how awkward it can be to replace whose with a construction involving of which, especially when an adjective comes between whose and the following noun (as in the first example):

• He looked up again at the tank whose huge cannon seemed to be pointing at him —P. P. Read, 1986

Biala was born in Biala, Poland (a town whose name she took as her own) —Art in America, 2000 [OEC].

2. This does not mean that of which cannot be used; when it fits comfortably in the sentence structure, it is a legitimate and often preferable alternative:

• The greater crime, the truth of which is emerging on a piecemeal basis, was committed before a shot was even fired —Scotland on Sunday, 2004.

It has to be used, of course, in contexts where there is no possessive or similar relation

• The independent production sector in Britain includes over 1,000 companies, most of which are located in London and the South-East —J. Tunstall, 2001.


Modern English usage. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • whose — [ huz ] function word *** Whose can be used in the following ways: as a determiner (introducing a direct or indirect question): Whose idea was it to come here? (introducing a relative clause): The winner was a Brazilian player, whose name I have… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • whose — W1S2 [hu:z] determiner, pron [: Old English; Origin: hwAs, from hwa; WHO] 1.) used to ask which person or people a particular thing belongs to ▪ Whose is this? ▪ Whose keys are on the kitchen counter? 2.) used to show the relationship between a… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • whose — [ho͞oz] pron. [ME whos, hwas < OE hwæs, gen. of hwa, WHO] that or those belonging to whom: used without a following noun [whose is this? whose will look best?] possessive pronominal adj. of, belonging to, made by, or done by whom or which… …   English World dictionary

  • Whose — (h[=oo]z), pron. [OE. whos, whas, AS. hw[ae]s, gen. of hw[=a]. See {Who}.] The possessive case of who or which. See {Who}, and {Which}. [1913 Webster] Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee. Gen. xxiv. 23. [1913 Webster] The question whose …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • whose|so|ev|er — «HOOZ soh EHV uhr», pronoun. Archaic. of any person whatsoever; whose …   Useful english dictionary

  • whose — gen. of WHO (Cf. who); from O.E. hwæs, gen. of hwa (see WHO (Cf. who)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • whose — ► POSSESSIVE DETERMINER & PRONOUN 1) belonging to or associated with which person. 2) (as possessive determiner ) of whom or which. ORIGIN Old English …   English terms dictionary

  • whose — [[t]huːz[/t]] ♦ (Usually pronounced [[t]hu͟ːz[/t]] for meanings 2 and 3.) 1) PRON REL You use whose at the beginning of a relative clause where you mention something that belongs to or is associated with the person or thing mentioned in the… …   English dictionary

  • whose */*/*/ — UK [huːz] / US [huz] determiner, pronoun Summary: Whose can be used in the following ways: as a determiner (introducing a direct or indirect question): Whose idea was it to come here? (introducing a relative clause): The winner was a Brazilian… …   English dictionary

  • whose*/*/*/ — [huːz] determiner, pronoun summary: Whose can be: ■ a determiner: Whose idea was it to come here? ■ a question pronoun: Whose is this jacket? ■ a relative pronoun: I asked whose it was. 1) used for showing that someone or something belongs to or… …   Dictionary for writing and speaking English

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