One phrase that has started to gain a bit of traction thanks to the advent of social media is “Whose mans is this”. It’s one of those phrases that many of us might find rather funny, and some of us may even find slightly confusing.
“Whose mans is this” is something that you say when somebody is behaving strangely in public. It means “Can someone come and claim this man so he can be stopped?”.
The phrase is filled with grammatical errors that I want to cover in the article today. But I also want to talk about where the word comes from, what it means today, and how we managed to get the phrase “whose mans is this”.
The first problem we have with the word mans is that it’s not using the correct plural. Almost everyone, with even a basic understanding of English, will know that the plural of “man” is not “mans” but “men”.
“Men” is one of the plural words in our language that breaks from the usual “just add an S” rule.
And if this was the case, the sentence would be “whose men are these?”. Yet this is not the case, as the phrase is used when talking about an individual, not a group.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be “men”, maybe it should be “man’s” instead. As most of you will know, adding an apostrophe before the S is to show possession.
But there are several problems with this. First of all, even if there should be an apostrophe, there isn’t.
But more importantly, when saying this phrase, you’re referring to the man as a possession, not as something that has possession.
In this phrase “mans” is a grammatically incorrect way of saying “man”. Why you would add an unnecessary letter is beyond me. But I wasn’t the one who invented this phrase.
Another issue with the phrase “whose mans is this “is that it sounds like a question, but it isn’t written like one. The use of the word “whose” shows that it’s a question that the speaker is seeking an answer to.
However, in English, when we ask a question, we indicate this by using a question mark. Even though there is no question mark, most of us will still be aware that it’s a question.
That does throw the purpose of the question mark into question.
In some other languages, such as Thai, most questions don’t end with a question mark.
Men have been around far longer than languages have. Heck, we were the ones who invented it. Unlike other words in the English language, “Man” hasn’t changed much since the language has evolved.
In Old English, they used the same word that we do- “man”. This comes from the Proto-Germanic Mann, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European Man.
It seems as if Man was one of the first words that we came up with. Which makes sense, as self-aware beings, when we invented language, we had to come up with a word to talk about ourselves.
The modern definition of “man”
Today, “man” has taken on a different meaning to what it used to in the past.
“Man” can also be another way of saying “I”. The best example of this use I can think of is the song “Man’s not hot”. In this song, the singer (Skepta) uses the term “man” when he’s talking about himself.
It can also be used when talking about other people—particularly males. For example, if your male friend wants to eat, but you want to go to the park, another friend might tell you “Man’s gotta eat bruv”.
The use of “man” in these senses is incorrect English, but still fun nonetheless.
Origin of “whose mans is this”
The term “whose mans is this” first came onto the scene from a Tweet. Twitter user @JeffJSays sent out a tweet saying “BAWSE move = hittin the label like ‘whose mans is this’ walkn past security and goin str8 2 da penthouse! Lol.”
I’ll be honest, I have no idea what it means either. But it quickly went onto become a popular term, used by other people on the site. Thanks to memes and funny videos, the phrase spread like wildfire.
Social media has enabled phrases and ideas to spread around the world much quicker than they would have been able to in the past.
Grammar rules don’t always matter
We’ve just spoken a lot about why “whose mans is this” is grammatically incorrect. But I’m going to (kind of) contradict myself now by saying that it doesn’t matter.
The phrase was created by someone on the internet, not an intellectual. It wasn’t made for people like me to write articles about, it was made for the people of the internet.
To put it bluntly, it was put out there for real people, not linguists.
Plus, rules (even rules of grammar) are liable to change. Which means perhaps it’s not Jeff who’s wrong about grammar. Maybe I’m just a little bit behind.
Alternatives to “Whose mans is this”
When referring to someone who is acting up in public, most of us won’t say “whose mans is this”, we would use other phrases that have the same meaning.
Many of us will simply ask the question “What are they doing?!”. This sentence is far more grammatically correct.
Those of us who really don’t approve might yell an insult such as “Weirdo!” or “Creepy”.
And the more creative among you could ever say something along the lines of “Did you just escape from the loony home?”.
“Whose mans is this” is a way of showing that somebody who you see in public is acting in a way that most wouldn’t approve of. It means “Someone claim this man, and come to collect him”.
It’s littered with grammatical errors. The word “mans” is not the correct pluralisation. But it’s not even plural. It should be “man”. Not to mention the lack of question marks. But it doesn’t matter that the grammar is terrible, it wasn’t part of anything formal, it’s from a tweet. I personally won’t be using this phrase. But if you do, I won’t be mad.
Martin is the founder of Grammarhow.com. With top grades in English and teaching experience at university level, he is on a mission to share all of his knowledge about the English language. Having written thousands of articles, he is an expert at explaining difficult topics in a simple language.
Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.