Is it correct to use "what's," "who's," and "why's," in a single sentence?


She was perplexed at the "what's", "who's" and "why's" of the situation, so much so that she lost her mental balance.

  • Why the apostrophes? Whys and wherefores is a more common phrase.
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 9:28
  • @Tim But whos isn't. Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 9:39
  • @EdwinAshworth - please elucidate!
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 9:40
  • One general recommendation is that a word used as a word should be italicised and, if pluralised, have a non-italicised 's added. Thus << There are too many however's in the second paragraph. >> This has been covered on ELU before. With very common examples (<< The whys and wherefores, and the ifs and buts, are explained fully in the next chapter. >> ), the requirement is often dropped. Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 9:48

1 Answer 1


That sentence reads fine as-is, though I would make one suggestion.

The apostrophe in the "what's" indicates the possessive rather than the plural. You would be better off removing the apostrophes; eg "whys" instead of "why's".

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.