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Referring to some attribute of an inanimate object — use “who's”?

I noticed the use of "whose" in the following sentence I wrote does not refer to a person:

A recent post on Less Wrong, Levels of Action, reminded me of a game I created whose dynamics I wanted to explore.

I use "whose" in this way fairly often. I'm just wondering, is it correct Standard English? If not, what would be a more correct way of expressing the same thing?


1 Answer 1


It is in American English - according to Mr Webster himself! enter image description here

A philosophical and practical grammar of the English language By Noah Webster

I suppose in BE the 'correct' form might be: "the dynamics of which I wanted to explore" - but that sounds like you you are trying to be German.

  • Do you mind using the formatting for a link to hide URLs like that? ;)
    – MrHen
    Apr 14, 2011 at 19:12
  • @MrHen - linkifier was having some issues with the url - fixed it
    – mgb
    Apr 14, 2011 at 19:14
  • +1 to this answer. The usual problem concerns using "that" for persons (i.e., "he is the criminal that stole the sofa"). But "whose" to indicate possession is unobjectionable.
    – The Raven
    Apr 14, 2011 at 19:19
  • Meh. That bashing of German is completely uncalled for and completely wrong. The whole whose issue is a very, very English phenomenon. No German in his right mind would ever replace "whose dynamics" with "the dynamics of which", whether in German or in English.
    – RegDwigнt
    Apr 14, 2011 at 19:27
  • @Reg - Blame Conan Doyle: "Only a German is so uncourteous to his verbs"
    – mgb
    Apr 14, 2011 at 20:05

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