Interrogative Determiners

There are three interrogative determiners in English: what, which, and whose. In this lesson we will go through each one of them.

Interrogative Determiners in English Grammar

We use interrogative determiners to ask questions. Interrogative determiners make direct or indirect questions and exclamations.
The three interrogative determiners in English grammar are:

  1. what
  2. which
  3. whose

Interrogative Determiner: What

'What' is used in questions to ask for particular information about somebody or something. Unlike the pronoun 'what', which stands alone, the determiner 'what' always comes before a noun or a noun phrase.

What color is your eyes?

What kind of music do you like?

What time is it?

Now notice that in the following examples, 'what' is a pronoun, not a determiner.

What do you do for a living?

What is your name?

Interrogative Determiner: Which

'Which' is used in questions to ask somebody to be exact about one or more people or things from a limited number.
That's why 'what' is considered a general determiner and 'which' is considered a specific determiner.

Which way is the pharmacy?

Which movie do you want to watch?

Which restaurant did you go to?

Now notice that in the following examples, 'which' is a pronoun, not a determiner.

Which do you prefer: chocolate or vanilla?

Which is better: Harry Potter books or movies?

Interrogative Determiner: Whose

'Whose' is used in questions to ask about what belongs to which person. Notice that 'whose' functions both as an interrogative and a possessive determiner, so 'whose' is technically the only interrogative possessive determiner in English.

Whose jacket is this?

Whose house is up for sale?

Whose iPhone was stolen?

Now notice that in the following examples, 'whose' is a pronoun, not a determiner.

Whose are these shoes?

Whose is that limo outside?

Interrogative Determiners in Indirect Questions

Up till now, all the examples that we've seen so far are examples of direct questions. But, note that these interrogative determiners can also appear in indirect questions.

Can you tell me what flavor you want for your ice cream?

Do you know his sister is a teacher at which university?

I wonder whose house is up for sale.


Interrogative words are words that are used to ask questions to get different information. There are three main interrogative words that we discussed in the article. Now, let us have a quick look over them.

Determiner Pronoun
What What school did you use to go? What are Those boxes for?
Which Which office in this building is looking for new staff? Which is worse? falling off the steps or fall in to the cesspool? because I experiences both today!
Whose Whose son is this young boy? whose are these beautiful puppies?

You might also like

Possessive Determiners

Possessive determiners are types of function words used before a noun to show who owns or possesses something.

Demonstrative Determiners

Demonstrative determiners in English are this, these, that and those. They are used to identify the person or thing that is being referred to.

Indefinite Determiners

Indefinite determiners are determiners that express quantity or the indefinite ideas of quality. They agree in number and gender with the noun they modify.

Indefinite Articles

The indefinite articles in English language are 'a/an'. They refer to a noun for the first time or a general noun when its identity is unknown.

Definite Article

The definite article in English language is 'the. It is used before a noun to show that the noun is known to the reader. Learn about this useful article!