Does "whose" correlate with a noun or a possesive determiner? For example:

"Whose dog is that?" "That's Johnny's dog."

This would imply that "whose" correlates with "Johnny's" or that "whose dog" correlates with "Johnny's dog". This makes intuitive sense, as they serve the same syntactical function. Yet, the following noun phrase can be made:

"Johnny, whose dog was hungry."

If this is grammatically correct, it would imply that "whose" correlates with a noun. It would thus seem that this construction is incorrect, yet it has become so generally accepted that no one bats an eye.


closed as unclear what you're asking by Edwin Ashworth, Hellion, Drew, curiousdannii, jimm101 Mar 19 '16 at 17:42

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    This is perfectly grammatical, and has always been, in all Germanic languages. Edit: come to think of it, it's grammatical in all Indo-European languages. Slavic, Romance, you name it. – RegDwigнt Mar 18 '16 at 22:15
  • Relative pronouns correlate in animacy (animate: who, whom, whose, that; inanimate: which, that), but not in case. Compare the sentence This man (subject), whom (object) I met last night, is an artist. – Anonym Mar 21 '16 at 2:02

You are comparing two different uses of whose.

In Whose dog is that?, whose is an interrogative pronoun.

In Johnny, whose dog was hungry, whose is being used as a relative pronoun.

In the case of the interrogative there is a direct matching of the pronoun with the proper name in the reply.

There is no similar matching with relative pronouns which simply provide explanation. The house which was on fire. The doctor whose wife is ill.

  • Exactly. It's accepted. But every other relative pronoun parallels its syntax with what it relates to. Is whose just an exception? – Jerry Fielder Mar 18 '16 at 22:54
  • Whose is genitive, parallel with his, my etc. – Colin Fine Mar 18 '16 at 23:51
  • What I mean is, when used in a subordinate relative clause, it doesn't parallel another genitive. – Jerry Fielder Mar 19 '16 at 0:30
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    In Whose dog is that?, the pronoun "whose" is interrogative determiner. – BillJ Mar 19 '16 at 8:52

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