Wh-words are what, when, where, who, which, why and how.

We use clauses with a wh- word:

  • In wh-questions (see Questions and Negatives):

What are you doing?
Who ate all the pies?
Why did you do that?

  • after verbs of thinking:

know - understand - suppose - remember - forget - wonder

I know where you live.
She couldn’t remember who he was.
John wondered what was going to happen next.

NOTE: We also use clauses with if

I wonder if we’ll see Peter.
She couldn’t remember if she had posted the letter.
 

  •  after verbs of saying:

ask - say - admit - argue - reply - agree - mention - explain - suggest

I asked what she wanted.
He tried to explain how the accident had happened.
She wouldn’t admit what she had done.
Did he say when he would come?

tell and some other verbs of saying must always have a direct object (see clauses, sentences and phrases):

tell - remind

We tried to tell them what they should do.
She reminded me where I had left the car.

  • after some verbs of thinking and saying we use wh-words and the to-infinitive:

We didn’t know what to do.
We will ask when to set off.
Nobody told me what to do.
Can anyone suggest where to go for lunch?

NOTE: We use the to-infinitive:

-- When the subject of the to-infinitive is the same as the subject of the main verb:

He didn’t know what to do >>> He didn’t know what he should do
We will ask when to set off >>> We will ask when we should set off

-- When the subject of the to-infinitive is the same as the person spoken to:

Nobody told me what to do. >>> Nobody told me what I should do.
Can anyone suggest where to go for lunch? >>> Can anyone suggest [to us] where we should go for lunch.

  • after some nouns to say more about the noun:

Is there any reason why I should stay?.
Do you remember the day when we went to Edinburgh.
That was the town where I grew up.

We often use a wh-clause after is:

I missed my bus. That’s why I was late.
This is where I live.
That’s what I thought.
Paris – that’s where we are going for our holidays.

 

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

hi kirk

i have one more question. how to find out if this present perfect or present simple. could you make some example here. it will be really helpful for me.

best regard
hussain

Hello Hussain,

Do you mean how to know when to use present perfect or present simple? In general, actions in the present perfect began in the past but are still happening or relevant in the present. The simple present is generally used for more regular or repeated actions, but I'd recommend you see the two pages I linked to for more detailed explanations and examples.

If I've misunderstood your question, please ask again, but more specifically. It's always helpful if you give an example, too, if that's possible.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hi kirk

we don't know who was happy.

is this sentence are grammatically correct? if it have mistake. pls help how to solve it

Hello taj25,

Yes, that is correct. Good work!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hi kirk

thank you so much for your appreciating.

Hi, please help me with this exercise.

"Famers work on their farm from morning till night."

Make question with the phrase "from morning till night", I have a big confusion between "when" and "how long". So which one is the best choice? Thanks a lot

Hi Kelvin Dao,

I'm afraid we don't provide answers for tasks which are not from our pages - if we tried then we would be doing people's homework for them and would never have time for anything else! However, I can help you with the difference between these two words.

We use how long when we are asking about duration.

We use what time or what day when we are asking about a clock time or calendar date.

We normally use when in a similar way to what time or what day - when we are asking about a clock time or calendar date - but it can also be used to ask about duration in some contexts.

When is the most general word (phrase) of the three.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hi, sir
please clear my doubt.
where are you inserting the pen-drive?
i am inserting the pen-drive into computer.
is this right? or
i am inserting the pen-drive at my office.
which one is right please tell me.
and explain

Hi Afia shakir khan,

The sentence

I am inserting the pen-drive into computer.

is correct and describes how you use the pen-drive. The second sentence tells us not about the pen-drive and its use, but about you and your location. It is a perfectly grammatical sentence, but it tells us about you and where you are, not about the pen-drive. As an answer to the question you give, it does not work.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

I would like to know if these question is correct:

"Who did you think to invite to the party?

Tks a lot,
Mariana

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