whose (hz) KEY
Middle English whos, from Old English hwæs; see kwo- in Indo-European roots
It has sometimes been claimed that whose is properly used only as the possessive form of who and thus should be restricted to animate antecedents, as in a man whose power has greatly eroded. But there is extensive literary precedent for the use of whose with inanimate antecedents, as in The play, whose style is rigidly formal, is typical of the period. In an earlier survey this example was acceptable to a large majority of the Usage Panel. Those who avoid this usage employ of which: The play, the style of which is rigidly formal, is typical of the period. But as this example demonstrates, substituting of which may produce a stilted sentence. See Usage Notes at else, which, who.