- whose1. 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.