Terribly sorry for my monomania, but these things stick in my head.
This time, I’m not telling you what I know, really. I’m admitting to a problem. I don’t know how to show possession in certain circumstances.
But first, let’s talk about the word “who.” Come on, you know you want to.
“Who” implies a person
“The person who ate my chocolate chip cookies will suffer in the ninth circle of hell.”
[Ok, it’s true that lots of people use “that” instead of “who” when writing about a person. This post isn’t about those people.]
Now, when I want to talk about a nonperson, I use “that”:
“The machine that destroyed my cookies will be disassembled and sent to Tatooine.”
With me so far? “Who” = Person. “That” = Not a person. Onward…
We have to use “whose” sometimes.
“Paul, whose car is blue, dislikes yellow cars.”
That sounds about right. Paul is still a person, despite his unyielding opposition to canary-colored cars.
But what do I say about a nonperson here:
“The building, whose windows are mirrored, stays cool in the summer.”
Whose? Really? That just doesn’t sound right for an inanimate object. (I’ve even seen “which’s” before, but not from a native English speaker.)
As far as I can tell, “whose” is our only option other than rewriting it.
Am I wrong?