Questions: interrogative pronouns ( what, who ) - English Grammar Today - Cambridge Dictionaries Online Cambridge dictionaries logo
Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

Questions: interrogative pronouns (what, who)

from English Grammar Today

We use interrogative pronouns to ask questions. They are: who, which, whom, what and whose. These are also known as wh-words. Questions using these are called wh-questions:

Who called last night?

Which keys are yours?

Whom do I ask for at the desk?

What did you do when the electricity failed?

Whose watch is this?

Interrogative pronouns: uses

We use who and whom on their own:

Who paid?

Whom did you speak to?

We can use whose, which and what either on their own (as pronouns) or with a noun head (underlined):

As pronouns

With a noun head

Whose are these books?

Whose books are these?

Which did you buy?

Which sweater did you buy?

What is the number on the door?

What number is your house?

We can use who, whose, which and what both as subject and object:

Who is the best footballer in the world? (who as subject)

Who did you meet? (who as object)

What happened next? (what as subject)

What did you buy? (what as object)

Who or whom?

Warning:

We use whom as an object in formal styles. When we use a preposition before whom, it is even more formal. We don’t normally use it in speaking:

Whom did you give the book to? (formal)

To whom did you give the book? (very formal) Or, less formally: Who did you give the book to?

What or which?

We use what when we ask about specific information from a general range of possible answers:

What’s the tallest building in the world?

What did you say? I couldn’t hear you.

What’s your address?

We use which when we ask for specific information from a restricted range of possible answers:

[looking at a list of addresses]

A:

Which is your address?

B:

This one here.

Which hand do you write with?

[looking at a photograph of three women]

Which one is your sister?

Which airport do we leave from, Heathrow or Gatwick?

(“Questions: interrogative pronouns ( what, who )” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press.)
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website
There, their and they’re – which one should you use?
There, their and they’re – which one should you use?
by ,
April 27, 2016
by Liz Walter If you are a learner of English and you are confused about the words there, their and they’re, let me reassure you: many, many people with English as their first language share your problem! You only have to take a look at the ‘comments’ sections on the website of, for example, a popular

Read More 

Word of the Day

cracker

a thin, flat, hard biscuit, especially one eaten with cheese

Word of the Day

bio-banding noun
bio-banding noun
April 25, 2016
in sport, grouping children according to their physical maturity rather than their age ‘When we’re grouping children for sports, we do it by age groups, but the problem is that, within those age groups, we get huge variations in biological age,’ said Dr Sean Cumming, senior lecturer at the University of Bath’s department for

Read More