Defining words WHICH and WHOSE


In a statement, these words define or explain which thing or person is referred to:


  • He went back to the house. (Which house?) The house which stood on the corner. = He went back to the house which stood on the corner.
  • I saw the man. (Which man?) The man whose car you damaged. = I saw the man whose car you damaged.
  • He couldn't remember which film he had seen.
  • That's the man whose wife works in my office.
  • Tell me which coffee you like.
  • The woman whose dog bit you is at the door.


The word whose is possessive, and it is often used as an adjective, which is a word that describes or clarifies a noun or a pronoun.  It describes who owns something.
Traditionally, whose was only used to describe a person or several persons, as in “Sarah, whose dog is cute, just arrived.” In this case, whose indicates which person’s (Sarah’s) dog we’re talking about. 

  • Whose dog chewed up my homework?
  • You and whose army!?
  • The ring came from a fire whose light was as bright as a star.
  • When I figure out whose paper this is, I’ll sign it.

Over time, it’s become grammatically acceptable to use whose to describe things belonging to inanimate objects and places, as well.

  • “New York is a city whose lights burn brightly all night long.” Here, the lights belong to the city.