Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: whose (1).

whose (1). Today: Meaning “of which.” “Whose” may usefully refer to things {an idea whose time has come}. This use of “whose,” formerly decried by some 19th-century grammarians and their predecessors, is often an inescapable way of avoiding clumsiness — e.g.: o “Many people assumed that this was the river Ankh, whose waters can be drunk or even cut up and chewed.” Terry Pratchett, Soul Music 28 (1995). o “A book whose humor could have seemed tediously affected turns out to be entertaining and utterly useful.” “Ready to Surf Web? Go Buy the Book,” Atlanta J.-Const., 24 Dec. 1995, at H4. o “About $4.1 million is from buildings whose owners filed for bankruptcy, she said in an interview.” D’Vera Cohn, “Water-Sewer Authority Weighs Delinquent Bills, Rate Increase,” Wash. Post, 27 Sept. 1996, at B1. The other possessive for “which” — namely, “of which” — is typically cumbersome. E.g.: “Western reluctance to intervene militarily in every foreign conflict is understandable. But it is disputable in the case of Bosnia, where fighting long ago turned from ethnic strife into a war of foreign aggression, the continuation of which [read “whose continuation”] would jeopardize European stability.” Gideon Rafael, “NATO Plus Russia: A Humanitarian Relief Force,” Int’l Herald Trib., 19 July 1995, at 8. Language-Change Index — “whose” referring to things: Stage 5. Next: Mistakenly Written “who’s.” For information about the Language-Change Index click here. Quotation of the Day: “‘But’ (not followed by a comma) always heads its turning sentence; ‘Nevertheless’ usually does (followed by a comma). I am sure, however, that ‘however’ is always better buried in the sentence between commas: ‘But’ for the quick turn; the inlaid ‘however’ for the more elegant sweep.” Sheridan Baker, The Complete Stylist 55-56 (2d ed. 1972).
Scroll to Top