Below is a line from a JAPANTODAY news article.

The mini-series comprising six one-hour episodes will be based on a screenplay supervised by Mark Goffman, whose was a writer for "The West Wing" and, more recently, the executive producer for the Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy".

I wonder what "whose" is referring to in the sentence because if it refers to Mark Goffman, then "who" is the right relative pronoun to use, isn't it?

  • 1
    You're right; it's a typo. Should have been "...Mark Goffman, who was a writer..."
    – Juhasz
    Oct 13 '20 at 0:03

Yeah, it refers to Mark Goffman, and it's standing in as the subject for the verb was, so it should be who. If the subject was something owned by or connected to Mark Goffman, you'd use whose before that noun to show that connection - *whose [something] was...". But this clause doesn't have that other noun, so the possessive pronoun doesn't have anything to modify.

One trick you can use is to replace the pronoun with the thing it's representing. So whose is a possessive form, and it's referring to Mark Goffman, so you can replace the pronoun with Mark Goffman's:

Mark Goffman's was a writer for "The West Wing"

Mark Goffman's what?

Whereas who just refers to Mark Goffman:

Mark Goffman was a writer for "The West Wing"

Looks good!

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