Whose to say / who’s to say?

Whose to say / who’s to say? Which word do I use?

Whose to say / who’s to say?

Ian asks, “Dear Aprostrophe Queen, It’s very important to me that I use apostrophes correctly, but this one has got me twisted and I hope that you can help.

I have been asked a question by email, and my immediate response was that I haven’t a clue, so I was about to shrug with the above response. Seeing it written down for possibly the first time ever sent my mind tumbling.

If I said, ‘Whose to say?’, that would be asking ‘Who has the responsibility to answer?’

If I said, ‘Who’s to say?’ that would be asking ‘Who is going to answer?’.

Which is the normally accepted question behind the phrase, or are they both worthy as a non-committal response? Thank you for any help you can give.

Kind regards, Ian”

Question:  Whose to say / who’s to say?

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5 Responses to Whose to say / who’s to say?

  1. ApostropheQueen says:

    Hi there Ian,

    Thanks for visiting my website.

    I can see where there is some confusion over which words to use, this is confusing for lots of folks.

    I immediately try to think of -how- the sentence or phrase is said, what might the sentence of question -before- it look like, and what its intention is.

    So – what might have been asked before someone said, “Who’s to say?”

    Perhaps someone said, “What’s going to happen in the year 2010?”, and someone might reply, “Who’s to say?”

    On the other hand, I can’t think of a way to use the second option you’ve mentioned, “Whose to say?”.

    If we look at my webpage: http://humbleapostrophe.com/whose.html the description is:

    WHOSE = WHO OWNS / WHO DOES THIS BELONG TO?

    So this means you can’t really say/write, “Whose to say?” as it just doesn’t make sense. I want to say, “Whose ‘what’ ?” because ‘whose’ needs a noun after it, for example:

    – whose car?
    – whose shoes?
    – whose suitcase?
    – whose dog?

    So the answer to your question depends on the question which has been asked before it – and it should be, “Who’s to say?”

    It should never be, “Whose to say?” as ‘whose’ needs a noun (or implied noun) after it, as in, “Whose (tennis ball) was it?”

    Hope this makes sense. Let me know if it doesn’t,

    Cheers
    Teena

  2. Ian says:

    Thanks for this! 😀 I used the same logic to come to the same conclusion seperately – that it should be “Who’s to say?” 🙂

  3. Dusti Hendrix says:

    I’m in school and I’m confused about this.

    • ApostropheQueen says:

      Hi there Dusti, thanks for dropping by my website.

      I’d love to help you — can you let me know how you’d like to use these words – or which bit confuses you, and then I’ll be able to make suggestions for remembering the best way to use them in future.

      cheers
      Teena

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