GRAMMAR – Interrogative Pronouns (question words)

An Interrogative Pronoun (question word) is a word we use in an information question (as opposed to a yes/no questions).

The most common question words in English are:

WHO is only used when referring to people, when we want to know the person.

  • Who is the new student?
  • Who are your  friends?

WHERE is used when asking about a place or location, when we want to know the place).

  • Where is the nearest Post Office?
  • Where do you live?

WHEN is used when asking about a time or an occasion, when we want to know the time.

  • When does the mall open?
  • When is your birthday?

WHY is used when asking for a reason, when we want an explanation.

  • Why do we need to do so much homework?
  • Why are you always late?

WHAT is used when asking for specific information, when we want to know the thing.

  • What is his name?
  • What is your favorite color?

WHICH is used when asking for specific information and you have a limited choice, when we have to choose between alternatives.

  • Whichis your favorite color – red or blue?
  • Which day of the week is more tiring?

HOW (by itself) is used to describe the way that something is done when we want to know the manner.

  • How do you turn on the computer?
  • How do engines work?

HOW, when used with a quantifier gives us other, more specific expressions:

How much – refers to a quantity of an uncountable nouns, or a price.

  • How much time will this take?
  • How much is the shirt in the window?

How many – refers to a quantity of countable nouns.

  • How many beers did you drink last night?
  • How many people live in this NY?

For more on How many vs. How much look at this page

How often – refers to the frequency with which something happens.

  • How often do you travel?
  • How often does she study?

How far – refers to the distance between two places.

  • How far is the school from your house?
  • How far is the bus stop from here?


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