Read this sentence:

There are good people who will help you. There are bad people who'll cheat you. But you never know who is who or which is which?

My vote is for 'who is who' but then if I think twice, 'which is which' also fits! I'm confused.

  • Actually I wanted to ask something similar, why we say: which one of you did it? And not use who. May 20, 2014 at 9:44
  • @LucianSava no, we say who did it? :)
    – Maulik V
    May 20, 2014 at 9:52
  • "which one of you did it?" is incorrect? May 20, 2014 at 9:56
  • @LucianSava no, it's not incorrect but the former one is short and straight! Who implies to any number of people in front of you. Why use superfluous words then?
    – Maulik V
    May 20, 2014 at 9:58
  • Both phrases can be used but I'd go with 'who' because, who is USUALLY associated with people and which is USUALLY associated with things. Like- "Which ice-cream you like?" and not "who ice-cream you like" .
    – Invoker
    May 20, 2014 at 9:59

3 Answers 3


You’ll never know which one is good and which one is bad.


You also can say:

Who is bad and who is good.

In first case you will have a more precise reference, in the second is more general, because who may be singular or plural, while which one is precise.


Who is who refers to the people: there are good people and bad people.

Which is which would be frowned upon in this case by some people, I guess, but it could refer to the good and the bad. Semantically you are then talking about "good people" and "bad people" as impersonal concepts, I dare say that is not standard...

To avoid confusion, just use who when talking about people - and in the example phrase, most will read it as just that.

Of course, there is some confusion, because a slight change in the sentence would make who wrong, and which the only option:

There are good events that will advance. There are bad events that will set you back. But you never know which is which!

As for the question in the comment, what about "which one of you did it?"... now that is a good question indeed. Of course, you can avoid the whole issue as Maulik V. indicated, but that's just the easy way out, no?

My guess is that which one indicates we are picking one out of a group of objects. Consider:

Which one of you rascals did it?
Which of you rascals did it?
Which rascal did it?
Which one of you did it? "one" implies (or even takes on the role of) rascals or a substitute!
Which of you did it? rascals or a substitute is implied!
Who of you did it? no implied part here!
Who did it?


I think that, for who is who we emphasize/concentrate on the person who helped/cheated us; the which is which is for the action we received.

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