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Near to my room there is a frying pan and I don't know who is the owner of this kitchen utensil. What is the correct way to ask it briefly?

  1. Whose this frying pan (is this correct?)

  2. Whose this frying pan belongs?

25

You could ask:

Who owns this frying pan?

Who does this frying pan belong to?

Who is the owner of this frying pan?

Whose frying pan is this?

  • 3
    Or even maybe "whom does this frying pan belong to?" 8-O – Victor Bazarov Sep 15 '15 at 20:52
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    Many people regard "whom" as hypercorrect nowadays. But I'd say "To whom does this frying pan belong?" rather than ending the sentence with the preposition, which mixes registers. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 15 '15 at 22:47
  • Can we say "Whose this frying pan is?" I understand that the meaning is a little bit different. Would such a formulation be unusual? – pabouk Sep 16 '15 at 16:49
  • 8
    It would be ungrammatical. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 16 '15 at 16:54
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    @pabouk "Whose is this frying pan?" is the correct word order. (it may offend some grammar purists, but it's commonly used in British English) – alephzero Sep 16 '15 at 21:52
31

"Whose frying pan is this?" is how most people would say it.

Edit--"Who does this frying pan belong to?" might be about as common. "Whom" is almost never used in spoken English. (For example, you would likely have to watch many hours of television before hearing a single "whom.")

  • Lest you watch period dramas. – Ctrl-alt-dlt Sep 17 '15 at 10:08
  • Whom does this frying pan belong to? To whom does this frying pan belong? – user13267 Sep 17 '15 at 10:43
2

"Whom does this frying pan belong to?" seems wrong to me.

"To whom does this frying pan belong?" sounds better,

although I'd say "Whose is this frying pan?"

  • 1
    Nothing wrong with “Whom does this frying pan belong to?”, apart from it being a somewhat unusual combination of the presence of one trait associated with formal registers (‘whom’) and the absence of another (prepositional fronting). It’s perfectly grammatical. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 16 '15 at 16:42
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    @JanusBahsJacquet: I'm not sure there's "nothing wrong" with it - the vast majority of native speakers would think you very strange if you said that! – psmears Sep 17 '15 at 10:52
  • @JanusBahsJacquet - I can believe that you are technically correct. It may be perfectly grammatical, but it "seems" wrong to a native speaker (i.e. me). Actually, what one would say is probably along the lines of "Does anyone (or Do you) know whose frying pan this is?", not presupposing that ownership is known by the addressed person(s). – J.B Sep 21 '15 at 8:34
  • @J.B I wouldn’t say it seems wrong as such—just uncommon. I agree completely that you’d be unlikely to hear it from a native speaker, but it’s not ungrammatical. “Nothing wrong with” may have been overstating it (makes it sound like it’s completely normal); “nothing ungrammatical about” is a better description. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 21 '15 at 9:38
  • @JanusBahsJacquet No, it really is wrong, it doesn't just seem that way. It suddenly came to me: Who does this frying pan belong to? or To whom does this frying pan belong? – J.B May 9 '16 at 14:42
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Although the previous answers are all fine, for me it depends on the social situation and if you're asking verbally or not, the previous answers "sound" as if they are in a written context (which I guess would fit the situation in the question if you were leaving a note).

For example if you know the other person well, they are in the same room as you, and can communicate visually by raising the pan during the question I would say this, with a raising intonation at the end of the question...

"Is this your pan?"

...or if you know them really well, simply...

"Your pan?"

This may not be linguistically or grammatically perfect, but it's the way people talk "round my way" :)

  • 2
    Why even say pan if you're holding it up? Just "is this yours?" – RemarkLima Sep 17 '15 at 6:08
  • Yup, that works too. – Andy Sep 17 '15 at 23:05

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