Easy Learning English

WH- words - Easy Learning Grammar

The WH- words are also called interrogatives. They are used for WH- questions. They can be determiners, adverbs, or pronouns.

WH- determiners

When used as determiners, what, which, or whose can be used to ask questions:
  • about nouns
  • What book are you reading?
  • Which plane is he catching?
  • Whose jacket is this?
  • or about the pronoun one or ones.
  • Which one would you like?
  • Which ones did Ruth want?
  • The determiner which can be used in questions about selecting. It can also be used together with the preposition of for the same purpose.
  • Which colour shall we use?
  • Which book sells the most copies?
  • Which of these colours shall we use?
  • Of all your novels,which of them did you enjoy writing the most?
  • The determiner whose asks about possession with reference to a person as the possessor.
  • Whose mother did you say she was?
  • Whose bag is this?

WH- adverbs

The adverb WH- words, when, where, how, and why, always make the sentence follow the interrogative word order.
  • When asks about time.
  • When will they arrive?
  • When shall I see you again?
  • Where asks about place.
  • Where are you going?
  • Where have you been?
  • Where is your coat?
  • How asks about manner.
  • How did you get here? – We came by train.
  • How does this thing work?
  • Why asks about reasons and purpose. Questions with why are usually answered with a clause containing because to express reason, or with the to infinitive to express purpose.
  • Why is the baby crying? – Because she’s hungry.
  • Why are you saving your money? – To buy a bike.
  • How much implies reference to a quantity; how many implies reference to an amount or a countable number of things but may leave out the noun referred to.
  • How much money did they take? – All of it.
  • How much does it cost? – £4.20.
  • How many packs do you want? – Twelve, please.
  • How many do you want? – Twelve, please.
  • How can also be used with adjectives such as old, big, far, or with adverbs such as often, soon, quickly to ask about degree, rate, or timing.
  • How far is it to the station? – About five kilometres.
  • How often does he come? – Not very often.

WH- pronouns

The pronouns who, whose, which, and what can be the subject or object of a verb.
  • Who can help me?
  • Whose is the new sports car outside?
  • Which was your best subject at school?
  • What happened next?
  • What have you got to take with you to camp?
The interrogative pronoun whose is used when the question is asked about a person as the possessor of something. See also Pronouns on interrogative and relative pronouns.
  • Whose is the motorbike parked outside?
  • Whose is this?
  • The form whom is used as the object of a verb or of a preposition in very formal or old-fashioned English.
  • Whom did you talk to?
  • Whom would you rather have as a boss?
Modern English usage prefers who instead of whom in all but the most formal contexts.
  • Who did you talk to?
  • Who would you rather have as a boss?
When whom is used as the object of a preposition, it normally follows the preposition.
  • To whom did you speak?
  • With whom did she go?
When who is used, the preposition is placed at the end of the clause.
  • Who did you speak to?
  • Who did she go with?
The WH- subject pronouns are found in the same sentence order as statements:   WH- subject pronoun + the main verb.
  • Who can help me?
  • Whose is that motorbike parked outside?
  • Which was your best subject at school?
  • What happened next?
The WH- object pronouns make the sentence take the word order of a question:   WH- object pronoun + primary or modal auxiliary + subject + base form of the verb.
  • What do you have to take with you to camp?
  • What has Jonathan done now?
  • The exception to this is in informal spoken English, when the speaker wants to show shock or disbelief.
  • You did what?

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