Of Which / Whose

Add modifying clauses for possessive inanimate nouns

Lincoln
 

 

Possessive Relative Pronouns

WHOSE—ANIMATE or INANIMATE

Whose replaces a possessive personal or inanimate noun in a relative clause. While some people may object to the usage of whose with an inanimate noun, grammarians approve of it and cite its usage by highly esteemed writers. Grammar Notes

WHOSE—SUBJECT OF CLAUSE

move overwho modifies woman
The designer whose car
has sleek lines is Italian.

The car move over whose lines are sleek  is beautiful.

WHOSE—OBJECT OF CLAUSE

The car    whose¹ lines I love  is beautiful.

move over[the lines of the car I love]

OTHER WORDING

*The car its lines are sleek is beautiful.

*The car which's lines are sleek is beautiful.

The car with sleek lines is beautiful.

OF WHICH—INANIMATE

The X of which is another way to add a possessive relative clause. The prepositional phrase "of which" is placed after the head noun of the clause. While some find this wording to be more formal and acceptable, others find it to be awkward.

OF WHICH—SUBJECT OF CLAUSE

move overwho modifies woman
The car    the lines of which are sleek is beautiful.

move over [the lines of the car are sleek]

OF WHICH—OBJECT OF CLAUSE

The car    the lines of which I love is beautiful.

move over [the lines of the car I love

OTHER WORDING

*The car I love it lines is beautiful.

I love the car's beautiful lines.

The car that I love has beautiful, sleek lines.

 

animate (adj.) — living, human (in grammar)  / inanimate (adj.) — things, concepts,

awkward (adj.) — clumsy, not smooth flowing, cumbersome

designer (n.) — person who draws the plans and design (how something looks) for something

inanimate (adj.) — not alive, things

lines (n. pl.) — the design or profile

love (v.) — like a lot, admire, enjoy

sleek (adj.) — has a smooth attractive shape; sleek lines, sleek hair

*not used

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variations Of Which

Other wordings

 

 

Of which, whose, that

OTHER WORDING

Since English does not have a genitive form for that or which, a number of variations are in use.

POSSESSIVE USE IN A SENTENCE

the X of which

He bought a car, the name of which I can't remember.

move over [I can't remember the name of the car.]

of which…the X

He bought a car, of which I can't remember the name.

which…the X of

He bought a car, which I can't remember the name of.

of which the name

He bought a car, of which the name I can't remember.

whose name

He bought a car, whose name I can't remember.

that…the name of

He bought a car, that I can't remember the name of.

 

 

 

 

 

Forming The X of Which

Replacing the Subject or Object Possessive Noun

 

 

 

The X of Which —  Subject or Object of the Modifying Clause

SUBJECT OF CLAUSE

Of which replaces the subject —possessive noun or pronoun— in the modifying clause, which is placed after the inanimate noun that it modifies.

The car was beautiful. The lines of the car are sleek.

  SUBJECT of MOD CLS  

The car

the lines of the car are sleek
move forward   move forward

was beautiful.

 

the lines  of which

 

The car

the lines  of which are sleek

was beautiful.

0BJECT OF CLAUSE

Of which replaces replaces the object —possessive noun or pronoun— in the modifying clause, which is then placed after the inanimate noun it modifies.

The car was beautiful. You saw the lines of the car.

  OBJECT of MOD CLS  

The car

you saw the lines of the car
        move front   move front

was beautiful.

 

the lines  of which

 

The car

the lines  of which you saw

was beautiful.

 

Add commas if the clause adds extra information that is not essential to identifying who the person is. (a non-identifying, non-restrictive clause) See Some or All and That vs Which

For "relative words", see Huddleston 12 §3.2.1-2.

 

 

 

 

 

Of Which-Clause

Clause Position

 

 

 

Modifying the Subject of the Main Clause

MODIFIES SUBJECT OF MAIN CLAUSE

A possessive modifying clause can modify the subject noun of the main clause. It is placed directly after the noun it modifies.

SUBJECT SUBJECT of MOD CLS  

The car

subject

the price of which is high

is new.

The seats

the leather of which is soft

are new.

MODIFIES OBJECT OF MAIN CLAUSE

A possessive modifying clause can modify the object noun of the main clause. It is placed directly after the noun it modifies.

  OBJECT OBJECT of MOD CLS

Here is

the car  

subject

the price of which is high.

Here are

the seats

the leather of which is soft.

 

complement – a word, phrase or clause which is necessary in a sentence to complete its meaning

verb + complement – elements required to complete the meaning of the clause

¹Corinthian – from Corinth (an advertising term that was used for Chrysler luxury.) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who/Whom-Clause

Punctuation

car
 

 

An identifying vs. Nonidentifying Clause

IDENTIFYING CLAUSE

no comma usedA clause that identifies the noun before it (tells you which one) is not set off with commas.

The car the sides of which are blue is very pretty. 

The interior the color of which is beige  is compact.

NONIDENTIFYING CLAUSE

use a commaA clause that adds extra, nonidentifying information is set off with comma(s).  The object pronoun cannot be omitted.

My car, the sides of which are blue, is very pretty. 

The Pure Coupe,  the color of which is beige,  is compact.

 

beige (n.) – off-white color; pale brown
compact
(adj.) – small, but arranged so that everything fits neatly into the space available

An identifying clause adds information or narrows (limits) the noun to a specific one, group or lot.  The clause helps by telling us which one. No commas are used.  It is also called restrictive, essential , or necessary clause. See That vs. Which   Some or All.

A nonidentifying clause adds extra information about a noun already identified by other means, for example, by name, by shared knowledge or context. The clause, a comment, is set off with commas (before and, if necessary, after the clause). It is also called nonrestrictive, nonessential,  or unnecessary clause. See Commas – comments.

¹An object relative pronoun cannot be omitted from (left out of) a nonidentifying clause.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

The book, which's title is From Within, was written in the 1990s.

He drives a car that its muffler needs new one.

(muffler – a device that quiets engine noise) 

SOLUTION

The book, the title of which is From Within, was written in the 1990s.

The book, whose title is From Within, was written in the 1990s.

He drives a car whose muffler needs replacement.

His car needs a new muffler.

He drives a car that needs a new muffler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Traditional and Linguistic Description

Advanced

 

 

Using whose for Inanimate Nouns

GRAMMARIANS LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

The misinformation that passes for gospel wisdom about English usage is sometimes astounding. A correspondent in 1986 wanted us to help him choose between two sentences containing of which; he had used of which to refer to the word house, he said, and had not used whose because it is "not formal".  (Merriam-Webster 959)

I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up they soul…       — Shakespeare, Hamlet

M-W continues citing passages from  Milton, Alexander Pope, William Wadsworth, and a number of highly esteemed modern-day writers.

Since English is not blessed with a genitive form for that or which, whose—originally the genitive of what and who—has been used to supply the missing forms since sometime in the 14th century. (M-W 960)

The force that has always worked against acceptance of whose used of inanimate things is its inevitable association with who. The force that always worked in its favor was suggested by Murray (Lindley Murray,1795) ; it provides not only a shorter but a smoother and more graceful transition than the alternative "the…of which." (M-W 960)

 

Whose. The contrast between personal who and non-personal which is neutralised in the genitive, where whose is the only form.  It occurs with both personal and non-personal antecedents.

  • She started a home for women [whose husbands were in prison]. (personal)
  • The report contains statements [whose factual truth is doubtful.] (non-personal)

Two versions exist of the prepositional phrase:

  • a house the roof of which had been damaged in the storm  [post-head of PP]
  • a house of which the roof had been damaged in the storm [separated of PP]
  • a house whose roof had been damaged in the storm  [genitive]

(Huddleston 12 §3.5.2)

Whose usually modifies people, but it may also be used to modify things.

I worked at a company whose employees wanted to form a union.  (Azar 13-4)

 

Whose  A. Meaning "of which."  Whose may usefully refer to things <an idea whose time has come>. This use of whose, formerly decried by some 19th-century grammarians and their predecessors, is often an inescapable way of avoiding clumsiness. (Garner gives several examples.)  The other possessive for which—namely, of which—is typically cumbersome.  Language-Index Change, Stage 5 (fully accepted) "whose referring to things"  (Garner 863)

Discourse choice between whose and of which.

In fact, whose can be further used to mark genitive relationships with completely inanimate, sometimes abstract heard nouns:

  • There is a way of proceeding in conceptual matters whose method is to define away any inconvenient difficulty.
  • He might argue that this consensus provides an abstract convention whose implicit extension includes the proposition.

(Biber 8.7.1.6)

Whose—relatives

Whose can refer back to people or things.  It was a meeting whose purpose I did not understand.

  • He's written a book whose name I've forgotten.
  • He's written a book the name of which I've forgotten.
  • He's written a book that I've forgotten the name of.
  • He's written a book of which I've forgotten the name.

(Swan 496)

 

Whose.  Human or inanimate antecedent.

Let us, in the name of common sense, prohibit the prohibition of whose inanimate; good writing is surely difficult enough without the forbidding of things that have historical grammar, and present intelligibility, and obvious convenience, on their side, and lack only—starch.

(Burchfield & Fowler 849)

 

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

A Used Car

used car
 

Use of which wording.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or the "Check 1-10" button.

 

1.
We bought a used car. The fender of it was dented.


2.
We wanted to buy a used car. The price of the car depended on the market. 

3.
My husband was reading a magazine. The cover of it had a picture of a hybrid car.


4.
The sun had destroyed the car paint. The color of the paint was faded.  

was faded.

5.
We called a body shop and made an an appointment. The time of the appointment was was rather inconvenient. 



body shop (n.) – a business that repairs the exterior of a car
inconvenient (adj.) – not agreeable, causing problems

6.
The car also needed a few minor repairs.  The condition of the car was pretty good. 



minor (adj.) – small
pretty good (adj.) – almost good

7.
We received a recommendation for a body shop.  I can't remember its name right now.



recommendation (n..) – advice saying that something is good; a favorable review of a product or a service

8.
We got a reasonable estimate. The amount of the estimate was the lowest of all.  



reasonable (adj.) – fair and sensible
estimate (n.) – an educated or professional guess of what the number (cost) will be.

9.
Our car was restored to like-new condition. The exterior of our car had aged.  


10.
The body shop was excellent. I recommend the work of this body shop 

The body shop, 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Private and Public "Wants"

Mechanic
 

Read for Errors

When people buy cars, they want cars whose images reflect their character. They want fun, sexy cars which their styles fit city or country driving. They want car's trunks large enough to haul "stuff", whether or not they plan to do much of that kind of activity. They want cars with lots of electronic gadgets, whose buttons and knobs will control music, climate, navigation and more. They want sporty convertible cars, its tops retract so that they can feel the wind in their hair. In short, they want cars whose images express "person of action".

Yet the same people often express completely different wants when asked directly. They are likely to say that they want cars which their reliability ratings are high. They may also say that they want cars whose the safety has been tested.  And they will say that they want fuel-efficient cars, which their gas mileage is very good. It is no wonder that car manufacturers have such difficulty presenting new cars each year to consumers, the desires of which differ when expressed privately or publicly.

consumers (n.) – people who buy products

fuel-efficient (adj.) – using little or less gas

it is no wonder that (expression) – it is no surprise that

rating (n.) – a scale that shows how good something is  (e.g., 1–5) lowest to highest rating

reliability (n.) – trusted, will not need a lot of servicing or repairs

retract (v.) – pulls back or goes in the trunk

spirit (n.) –  character; unique personal quality

want (n.) – desire 

 

 

 

Correct or Incorrect?

  1. Select your response—correct or incorrect. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or the "Check 11-20" button.

 

11.
When people buy cars, they want cars whose images reflect their character.
   

12.
They want fun, sexy cars which their styles fit city or country driving

   

13.
They want  car's trunks large enough to haul "stuff", whether or not they plan to do much of that kind of activity.

   

14.
They want cars with lots of electronic gadgets, whose buttons and knobs will control music, climate, navigation and more.

   

15.
They want sporty convertible cars, its tops retract so that they can feel the wind in their hair.

   

16.
In short, they want cars whose images express "person of action".

   

17.
Yet the same people may express completely different wants when asked directly. They are likely to say that they want cars which their reliability ratings are high.

   

18.
They may also say that they want cars whose the safety has been tested.

   

19.
And they will say that they want fuel-efficient cars, which their gas mileage is very good.

   

20.
It is no wonder that car manufacturers have such difficulty presenting new cars each year to consumers, the desires of which differ when expressed privately or publicly.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 3

Car Accident

car accident
 

 

Read for Errors

Yesterday, a neighbor accidentally hit our car. He is the son of the family who his yard is behind us. The neighbor his son hit our car came over to apologize. 

We went out to look at the cars. His car, the fender had a tiny scratch, was hardly damaged. The car, who its door was dented, was ours.

The window's glass that had shattered was on the passenger side of the car. The door was dented in and unusable.

The side rear view mirror was on the ground. The mount's wires which were hanging out, was still attached to the car.

The young man was supposed to turn left on our street, its end was temporarily blocked. He changed his mind and crashed into our car instead.

The neighbor promised to pay for the repair costs which their amount of has not been determined. We will get some estimates for the repairs.

He would rather pay cash for the repairs. His insurance which the rates of it would rise, is only used as a back-up.

We were glad that no one was hurt. Our neighbor's son, the confidence of which was slightly "bruised", will pay more attention next time.

GLOSSARY

apologize (v.) — be sorry; regretful

bruised (adj.) — hurt, damaged flesh

estimate (n.) — a calculation, educated guess, an approximate amount

 

fender (n.) — the side part of a car that covers the wheels; Br-Eng – wing

mount (n.) — the part that attaches and supports the mirror

tiny (adj.) — small

 

 

 

 

Edit for Errors

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box. Use whose or of which.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or the "Check 21-30" button.

 

21.
Yesterday, a neighbor accidentally hit our car. He is the son of the family who his yard is behind us.


22.
The neighbor his son hit our car came over to apologize.


23.
His car, the fender had a tiny scratch, was hardly damaged.


24.
The car, who its door was dented, was ours.


25.
The window's glass that had shattered was on the passenger side of the car.


26.
The side rear view mirror was on the ground. The mount's wires which were hanging out, was still attached to the car.


27.
The young man was supposed to turn left on our street, its end was temporarily blocked. He changed his mind and crashed into our car instead.


28.
The neighbor promised to pay for the repair costs, which their amount of has not yet been determined. We will get some estimates for the repairs.


29.
He would rather pay cash for the repairs and not use his insurance which the rates of it would rise.


30.
We were glad that no one was hurt.  Our neighbor's son, the confidence of which was slightly "bruised", will pay more attention next time.