The following exchange appears in Jonathan Lethem’s novel Girl in Landscape (on p. 208 of my Faber and Faber edition, 2002):
“I don’t have a home,” said Ben Barth.
“Well, who’s fault is that?” said Wa.
Who’s is a contraction of who is or who has (or occasionally who was): Who’s going? Who’s got tickets? Looks who’s talking; whereas whose is a possessive pronoun – it’s who in the genitive case – so it should have been used in the quoted passage: whose fault is that?
Confusion arises because who’s and whose are pronounced identically, and also because the ’s in who’s can mislead people into thinking it has to do with possession: If the cap isn’t Jo‘s or Jim‘s, then
who‘s whoseis it? (This apostrophe-led impression of possession probably also inspires the erroneous your’s, her’s, our’s and their’s.)
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