What Are Interrogative Pronouns?
Interrogative pronouns are used to ask questions. The interrogative pronoun replaces the noun or noun phrase we are asking about.
English Interrogative Pronouns
Interrogative Pronouns: Functions
Interrogative Pronouns as the Subject
When interrogative pronouns are used as subjects in a sentence, they do not change the sentence structure. Rather, they simply replace the subject of the sentence. There is no need to change the position of the verb or add an auxiliary verb. Take a look at some examples:
You can see that all we had to do was to replace the subject 'he' with an interrogative pronoun.
Interrogative Pronouns as the Object
When asking questions about the object of a sentence, some changes need to be made to the sentence. First, the object needs to be
Here, a new coffee maker (object) is deleted. 'Do you need?' is the yes/no question, and 'what' is added to the beginning of the sentence as an interrogative pronoun.
'Whose' as a Possessive Pronoun or a Determiner
This car is
If you want to mention the noun (pen) you should place it immediately after 'whose.'
Who or Whom?
'Who' and 'whom' are closely related pronouns since they both refer to a person, but there is an important difference between them. Generally, 'who' is used when asking about the
In this question, 'who' asks about the subject of the verb 'told'.
Here, the shooters (they) is the subject, and (a girl) is the object. So 'whom' is used to ask about the object.
In modern English, 'whom' is considered formal and old-fashioned. So 'who' can be used to ask about both the subject and object of a sentence.
What vs. Which
'What' and 'which' are both used to ask about things, but there is a subtle difference between them. 'What' is used to inquire about something when there is a wide or unlimited range of possible answers.
On the other hand, 'which' is used to inquire about something when there is a specific or limited range of possible answers. For example:
In this question, you have only two choices to answer 'your mother' or 'your father.'
Interrogative Pronouns + Ever
There are five less common interrogative pronouns that can be formed by adding the suffix '-ever' or '-soever' to the original interrogative pronouns. These suffixes add emphasis or surprise to the question. However, it's important to note that '-soever' is rarely used in modern English. The rules that apply to the original interrogative pronouns also apply to these modified pronouns.
Take a look at some examples:
Here '-ever' is used to show that the person is surprised.
As you can see, '-ever' is added to the interrogative pronoun to add emphasis.
The use of interrogative pronouns with '-ever' is not very common and is more frequently seen in British English. However, the use of relative pronouns with the same suffix is very common, and pronouns such as 'whoever' or 'whatever' are typically used as relative pronouns rather than interrogative pronouns.
Generally, when 'what,' 'which,' and 'whose' are used alone, they function as interrogative pronouns. However, when these words are followed by a noun, they become interrogative determiners. Here are some examples:
Here, 'color' is a noun added to 'what,' so 'what' is an interrogative determiner here.
As you see, 'shoes' is a noun added to 'whose,' so 'whose' is an interrogative determiner here.
In this example, 'whose' functions as an interrogative determiner. However, there is a subtle difference between 'whose' as an interrogative pronoun and 'whose' as an interrogative determiner. If the word order in the example above is changed, it is possible to construct a sentence where 'which' functions as an interrogative pronoun.
In this example, 'whose' is a interrogative pronoun, since there is no noun after it. As you know 'these' is the demonstrative determiner here.
Interrogative Pronouns vs. Relative Pronouns
Interrogative pronouns are typically used in questions. However, these pronouns can also be used in sentences that are not questions, in which case they become
A bonus will be given to the salesman
'Who' connects 'the salesman' to the clause 'makes the most money this month.'
Joan likes movies
Since 'what' is not a relative pronoun, it is replaced by 'that' to connect a noun (movies) to a clause (have a lot of action scenes and loud noises).
Interrogative pronouns and interrogative determiners are used to ask wh-questions.
We can also use relative pronouns with a delicate difference from interrogative pronouns, in the middle of the sentences to connect them with each other.
How to Make Questions?
- To ask about the subject: interrogative pronouns + verb complement or object + ?
- To ask about the object: interrogative pronouns + yes/no question + ?
Let us take a look at the table to sum up, and learn the concept through some examples:
|Who vs. Whom
|'who' is used to refer to subjects and objects
|'whom' is used to refer to objects
|What vs. Which
|'what' is used to ask about unlimited options
|'which' is used to ask about limited options
|Interrogative Pronouns vs. Interrogative Determiners
|interrogative 'pronouns' are used alone
|interrogative 'determiners' are followed by a noun