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, may I ask something? when should we use "do, did, does" in the question form? Can anyone give me explanation about it? thanks

Hello Teacher,
Which of the following sentences is correct?
1) Please put it back to how I pass it to you
2) Please put it back to how I pass to you
Thank you

Hello Kaisoo,

I'm afraid neither is correct. If I understand what you mean, the verb 'pass' should probably be in the past simple tense. I would suggest a sentence like 'Please return it in the same conditions you found it'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Noted, thank you

Lets say, I am addressing a group of persons. I want to say "Do you have any questions?"
Is this sentence fine or it should be "
Do you guys have any questions?"

Hello avnishfcs,

Both of these questions are fine. The second one is much more informal than the first.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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