I wrote a simple Email whose goal was to inform friends and family about the party.

Can the "whose" in the sentence be replaced with "with a/the" to make the sentence like:

I wrote a simple Email with the goal of informing friends and family about the party.

Is the second sentence better than the first, as "whose", no matter what, sounds wrong? I'm looking for a way to rewrite this, keeping the word "goal".

  • 1
    I would just cut that part out entirely: "I wrote a simple email to inform friends and family about the party."
    – Laurel
    May 11 at 10:57
  • @Laurel, yes, that's simpler, but I'm looking for a way with the word "goal". May 11 at 11:00

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can use whose with "inanimate" referents such as emails. From Merriam-Webster...

Whose is the possessive form of the relative pronoun who.
Which and that, the relative pronouns used for animals and objects, lack a possessive form, so whose can be used for their possessive forms as well, as in "the movie, whose name I can't remember."

  • 2
    And, yes, it can be replaced with with the goal of. May 11 at 10:54
  • But, 'Who?''s answer is always a living being, right? So, as it doesn't have a possessive form, and it sounds wrong for an inanimate object, why not change it to a sentence like the second one? "The avoidance of whose certainly works, but the fact is it is easier to borrow whose to convey possession for an inanimate object than to work around it.": yes, it's easier to use 'whose', but why not avoid it? May 11 at 10:55
  • 1
    @TheAmateurCoder: I don't know what you mean by "it sounds wrong for an inanimate object". There's absolutely nothing wrong with whose in the cited "email" example context. The only real restriction applies in the context of questions starting with whose, as pointed out in my M-W link (we can't transform Which book's pages are torn? into Whose pages are torn?). In other contexts, there's nothing to be avoided. May 11 at 11:02
  • @FumbleFingers, the 'who' in 'whose'- as it can easily be rewritten in this case. May 11 at 11:06
  • By pointing out that it can be rewritten, you imply that perhaps it should be rewritten (presumably because you're still not convinced it's okay to use whose of inanimate objects). But I don't really see why you asked a question about whether the usage is acceptable in the first place, if you don't want to be told that it's fine. May 12 at 10:51

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