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English definition of “what”

what

determiner, pronoun, exclamation (QUESTION)    /wɒt/ US  /wɑːt/
A1 used to ask for information about people or things: What time is it? What books did you buy? What did you wear? What size shoes do you take? What happened after I left? What caused the accident?Question words and expressions used in questions that show you are surprised or do not believe something: "I've just told Peter." "What?/You did what?" What's this I hear? You're leaving?Question words and expressions what... for? B2 used to ask about the reason for something: What are these tools for? What are you doing that for? "We need a bigger car." "What for?"Question words and expressions Grammar:ExclamationsWe use exclamations to express surprise or shock or a strong emotion about something. The type of phrase or clause associated with exclamations is called exclamative.See moreGrammar:What …!We can use what + noun phrase ((+ verb) (+ tag)):See moreGrammar:How …!We often use how followed by an adjective only:See moreGrammar:Exclamatives with interrogative formWe sometimes make an exclamation using interrogative (question) word order:See moreGrammar:Questions: interrogative pronouns (what, who)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:See moreGrammar:Interrogative pronouns: usesWe use who and whom on their own:See moreGrammar:WhatWhat is a wh-word. We use what to ask questions and as a pronoun and determiner.See moreGrammar:What as a question wordWe can use what to ask for information about things and actions:See moreGrammar:What meaning ‘please repeat’We can use what in informal situations to ask someone to repeat something if we don’t hear it or understand it:See moreGrammar:Emphatic questions with whatever and what on earthWe can ask emphatic questions using whatever or what on earth to express shock or surprise. We stress ever and earth:See moreGrammar:What as a pronounWe can use what as a pronoun to mean ‘the thing(s) that’:See moreGrammar:What as a determinerWe can use what in exclamations to express a strong feeling or opinion. In this case, we use what as a determiner before a noun or before a/an (+ adjective) + noun:See moreGrammar:What … for?We can use what … for? in two ways. We can use it in informal situations to mean why?:See moreGrammar:What: typical errorsSee more
(Definition of what determinerpronounexclamation (QUESTION) from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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