Interrogative Pronouns (Question Words)

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Interrogative pronouns are used to ask questions. There are five interrogative pronouns in English: Who, Whom, What, Which, and Whose. They are also known as question words or wh-words. Thus, questions using these are called wh-questions:

  • Who called last night?
  • Which books are yours?
  • Whom do I ask for at the desk?

Who and Whom

We use the words Who and Whom to ask about people. Who is used as the subject of the sentence:

  • Who is coming to the party?
  • Who was there?
  • Who did that?

While Whom is used as the object of the sentence:

  • Whom did you visit? (You is the subject. Whom is the object of ‘visit.’)
  • Whom did she talk to? (She is the subject. Whom is the object of ‘talk.’)

What

We often use What to ask questions about things or activities. It is used when there are many possible answers:

  • What do you want for dinner?
  • What is your friend’s name?
  • What time are we supposed to be there?

Which

We use Which when there is a smaller number of possible answers:

  • Which color do you prefer, red or blue?
  • Which train should I take?
  • Which seat would you like?

Compare:

  • What is your name? – It’s John.
  • Which is your name? (looking at a list of names) – This one here, ‘John.’

Whose

We use Whose to ask about the owner of an object:

  • Whose sweater is this?
  • Whose shoes are these?
  • Whose phone is that?

Check out this funny video!

See also:

Using Pronouns for Possession

Pronouns: Subject and Object

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