Is it possible to use whose as the possessive form of which?

  • Based on classic films -- whose screenplays were mostly dramatic --
    Bordwell exposed his theory of the hero.

Is that correct?

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    This is commonly how it's done informally, yes. – Robusto Jun 16 '15 at 14:43
  • By the way, it's possessive with four s's. – sjsyrek Jun 16 '15 at 14:52
  • I deleted my answer since examples to the contrary were provided. It still feels wrong to me despite the attestations, but I don't want to muddy the waters for the OP. A style guide may provide better guidance than historic examples, though. – sjsyrek Jun 16 '15 at 15:01
  • 1
    @Robusto: Come, we're armoured with righteousness; the Peeververein shall not triumph. – John Lawler Jun 16 '15 at 15:48
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    So, to partially vindicate myself, I looked up the usage note I knew just had to exist on this point. I guessed the result would be 60-40 or so in favor of you guys, that whose is OK to use to refer to inanimate objects. Turns out I was quite close. In case anyone is interested: ahdictionary.com/word/… – sjsyrek Jun 16 '15 at 17:44

1 the room the door of which is green

2 the room whose door is green

The first construction is a bit clumsy. The second is shorter and much more practical. That's why the second way is replacing the first.

  • 1
    Do you have any evidence that the second construction is newer than the first/becoming more common than the first? – herisson Jun 16 '15 at 21:08
  • That is quite another question. But I admit an interesting one. But I never had the idea to look into the historical side of this matter nor did I study the frequency of the two constructions today. But I take it for granted that the shorter one is more common. – rogermue Jun 16 '15 at 21:19
  • It seemed to be implied in your answer ("the second way is replacing the first") so if you don't know, you might want to reword that part. – herisson Jun 16 '15 at 21:21
  • As I seldom read the first constructon, but occasionally find the second I think I may use the formulation that I chose. By the way, what I write here is no professoral thesis. And I find you can formulate as carefully as you want you get a shot from some corner. – rogermue Jun 16 '15 at 21:27
  • The room with the green door? – sjsyrek Jun 17 '15 at 6:14

Yes, it is correct. See also http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/whose-for-inanimate-objects

According to grammar girl, whose is the only word we have to refer to inanimate antecedents.

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