Interrogative Pronouns for intermediate learners

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?

In English, interrogative pronouns are used to form questions. Although many of these pronouns begin with "wh-", not all words that begin with "wh-" are interrogative pronouns, and it's important to understand the difference.

Interrogative Pronoun Person/Thing Asking about
What Thing Subject/Object
Which Person/Thing Subject/Object
Who Person Subject
Whose Person/Thing Possessive Nouns

How to Use Them

Interrogative pronouns can be used as either subjects or objects. Now, let us see how they work:

Interrogative Pronouns as the Subject

To form a question using an interrogative pronoun as the subject, we simply replace the subject of the sentence with the appropriate pronoun. The verb remains the same, and no other changes are necessary. Pay attention to the following examples:

The green one is my favorite. → Which is your favorite?

The blasting news was spread everywhere. → What was spread everywhere?

We're talking about relationship goals. → Who is talking about relationship goals?

Interrogative Pronouns as the Object

Using interrogative pronouns as objects requires a different approach. First, the object in the sentence needs to be removed, and then the sentence should be rephrased as a yes/no question . Finally, the appropriate interrogative pronoun can be added to the beginning of the sentence. Study the following examples carefully:

I'm talking about real money here. → What are you talking about?

As you can see, the place of the verb is changed accordingly.

She's pointing to the red car. → Which is she pointing to?


There is a subtle difference between 'What' and 'Which'. When 'What' is used as an interrogative pronoun, an infinite number of answers are possible. However, when 'which' is used, the range of answers is limited. Look at the examples below:

A : What do you like to study in America?

B : I like to study Norse mythology there.

A : Which is your favorite food on the menu?

B : Well, it's Pasta with Alfredo sauce.

Who and Whose

'Who' is used to ask about people. We typically use 'who' to ask about the subject and the object. Look at the following example:

A : Who said you could come in here without permission?

B : You said so yourself.

'Whose' is the only possessive pronoun here and it replaces possessive nouns or possessive determiners. It is used to ask about ownership. Look at the following examples:

That bus is ours. → Whose bus is that?

She is talking to her cat. → Whose cat is she talking to?


Another interrogative pronoun in English is 'whom'. It is old-fashioned and formal and is not that common among English speakers. Its main purpose is to replace the object of the sentence. Look at the following example:

A : To whom was the New Testament given?

B : It was given to Mark.

Interrogative Determiners

If interrogative pronouns are followed by a noun, they are no longer called pronouns. Rather, they will be considered interrogative determiners. Pay attention to the following examples:

Whose book are you reading?

Which genre of literature are you interested in?

As you can see, the interrogative pronoun is followed by a noun which turns it to a determiner.


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