Whats vs What’s: Which is Correct?

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“Whats” versus “what’s.” Which one is correct and is there any difference between them?

The correct word is “what’s.” “Whats” is not a word. We need to add an apostrophe to make a contraction. “What’s” is short for “what is” or “what has.”

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What’s

What’s is a contraction for “what is” or “what has.”

A contraction is a shortened form of two words. The apostrophe shows that there are letters missing. In the case of “what’s”, we are missing the “i” from “what is” and the “ha” from “what has.”

Let’s explain further:

“What’s” is a contraction of “what is.” For example, you might say “What’s (=what is) your name?” or “What’s (=what is) your phone number?”

“What’s” is also a contraction of “what has.” For example, you might say “What’s (=what has) happened in Vegas?” or “What’s (=what has) he done?”

Whats

“Whats” is not a word. It is grammatically incorrect and is a misspelling. Some people may write “whats” in an email or message because it’s faster than writing it with the apostrophe! This doesn’t make it right!

Whats vs What’s

Clearly, “whats” is not a word. Instead, use “what’s” if you want to spell the word correctly.

“What’s” in a Sentence

Examples of questions and sentences with “what’s:”

  • What’s your name?
  • What’s in this bag?
  • What’s for dinner?
  • What’s the matter?
  • What’s up?
  • What’s on TV?
  • What’s got four legs and a tail?
  • What’s the time?
  • What has she done to the furniture?
  • What’s the temperature?
  • What’s your address?
  • What’s Lola wearing?
  • What’s Matt doing?
  • I don’t know what’s going on.

Other Contractions Similar to “What’s”

There are other contractions that are similar to “what’s.” For example, you might say “that’s” instead of “that is” or “that has.” You might also say “there’s” instead of “there is.”

Mustn’t (=must not)

Isn’t (=is not)

Can’t (=cannot)

They’re (=they are not)

Aren’t (=are not)

Etc.

“What’s” VS “What is:” When To Use

When you are writing in a more formal style, you might want to use the full form of “what is.” For example, you might say, “What is your name?” or “What is your email?”

“What’s” is typically used in more informal writing or speech. I wouldn’t advise using it in school essays or professional emails.

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In Conclusion

“What’s” is a contraction of “what has” or “what is.” It is always used in informal writing or speech. “What is” is always used in more formal writing or speech.

If you see “whats” without an apostrophe, take it as a misspelling. This is a common typographical error.

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I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.

I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!

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