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Possessives: questions

Level: beginner

We use whose to ask questions about possession:

Pattern A   Pattern B
Whose coat is this? or Whose is this coat?
Whose book is that? or Whose is that book?
Whose pens are those? or Whose are those pens?
Whose bags are those? or Whose are those bags?


Be careful!

Be careful not to confuse whose and who's (= who is). They are pronounced in the same way but spelled differently:

Whose coat is this?
Who's (= Who is) Stefan?

Possessives: questions 1


Possessives: questions 2




It's really helpful.

Copying job:

Whose dog is this? Whose is this dog?
Whose dog is that? Whose is that dog?
Whose dogs are these? Whose are these dogs?
Whose dogs are those? Whose are those dogs?

Sir, I am Diojan.
I have a doubt in possessive pronoun.
Which is correct question form.
1.which is house theirs?
2.which house is theirs?

Hello Diojan,

2 is the correct sentence. The problem with 1 is not the possessive pronoun -- it is the word order. When 'which' goes with a noun, the noun goes immediately after it.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, my name is Bernice. I have some questions conerning "whose." Hope I can get some advice from native speakers.

"Whose books are they?" " Whose books are those?"
These two are acceptable and correct in daily use.

"Whose are the books on the table?" This is also acceptable.

But how about:
"Whose books are they on the table?" or "Whose books on the table are they?"
These two sentences sound strange, isn't it?

If we are on a standard test, are these two sentecnes considered correct?

I will appreciate any comment. Thanks a lot.

Hi Bernice,

'Those' is a word with an aspect of location in its meaning. It is not a word which we can use in a location-neutral way, as we can with 'they'. In other words, when we say 'those' (or 'these') we must be identifying a location or a group in contrast to another location or group; otherwise the word does not fit the context. Therefore when we are identifying a location ('on the table') or a set in contrast to another set ('near me rather than far from me') we tend to use words like 'these', 'those', 'here', 'there' etc.

To relate this to your examples:

Whose books are they?

Whose books are those?

These two are acceptable and correct in daily use.

This is correct. These examples are slightly different in that the second (with 'those') requires the listener to imagine a context in which the speaker is indicating the books he or she is referring to.

Whose are the books on the table?

This is also acceptable.


Whose books are they on the table?

Whose books on the table are they?

These two sentences sound strange, isn't it?

These sentence sound strange for the reasons given above. When we refer to the table we are giving a location, and so 'those' is much more natural. While the sentences are not necessarily grammatically incorrect, they are not standard use and would probably be seen as incorrect in a test.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, i'm Daniele
I've a question concerning the example above with the term "whose".
Can we use both pattern A and pattern B with the same meaning? Is there any difference between using one instead of the other?

Hello Daniele,

One pattern or the other would be more likely in certain contexts depending on the emphasis, e.g. pattern B is more likely is you want to emphasise the verb ('Whose are those bags?), but there's no difference in meaning between the two patterns. 

You might want to look through the dictionary entry for 'whose', or even search the internet for it, to see different examples of how it's used. Whatever you find on the internet will also have the advantage of showing the context.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello my name is Ariana, I've studied on British council for 3 years and I don't know yet how to use possive adjectives to prurals.. I saw some examples but unfourtanally I am not clear about it.. Could you give me other examples? Thanks

Hello Ariana,

I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'possessive adjectives to plurals'. The noun does not influence the possessive adjective, so we can use the same possessive adjective with both singular and plural nouns:

This is my house.

These are my houses.

It doesn't matter if we are talking about one house or many houses here; 'my' is used with both. The possessive adjective changes only if the person changes ('your house', 'our house' etc).

I hope that helps to clarify it for you. If not then please reply, providing a sentence to illustrate what you mean and we'll try to help.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team