for beginners

There are five interrogative pronouns in English. Each is used to ask a specific question. In this lesson, we will learn more about these pronouns.

"Interrogative Pronouns" in English Grammar

What Are Interrogative Pronouns?

Interrogative pronouns are pronouns that are used to ask questions.

English Interrogative Pronouns

The main interrogative pronouns in English are:

Interrogative Pronouns Example
Who Who are you?
What What is that?
Which Which is the most beautiful?

Who

'Who' is an interrogative pronoun that is used to ask questions about people. For example:

'Who is he?' 'He is Sam.'

'Who ate the last slice of the cake?' 'Angela.'

What

'What' is an interrogative pronoun that is used to ask questions about things. For example:

'What happened?' 'Nothing happened.'

Tip!

Both 'who' and 'what' can be used to ask questions about either subject or object of a sentence, but when asking questions about objects, an auxiliary needs to be used between the interrogative pronoun and the subject of the verb. Look at the examples:

-What did you eat? + I ate a sandwich.

Here, 'sandwich' is the object of the verb and the interrogative pronoun 'what' is asking about it, and the auxiliary 'did' is added.

'Who are you calling? + I'm calling my friend.

Here, 'my friend' is the object of the verb and 'who' is used to ask about it and 'are' acts as an auxiliary.

Which

The interrogative pronoun 'which' is used to ask questions about a specific item or selection from several options. Like 'what' and 'who, 'which' can also be used to ask questions about both subject and object and the rule about adding an auxiliary also works here. For example:

- Which is yours? +The black one is mine.

Here, 'which' asks about the subject. Here, 'is' acts as he main verb, NOT the auxiliary.

- Which do you want, tea or coffee? + I want coffee.

In this sentence, 'which' is asking about the object, so the auxiliary 'do' is used between the interrogative pronoun and the subject.

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