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
I this sentence :

the surrealistic moment in art in the 1920s ans 1930s placed an emphasis on what is pictured dreamlike images.

what is the function of "what"?
if "what" = question word, way this sentence ended with "."?
if "what" = relative pronoun, !?
if "what" = relative clause? why come verb after what?

thanks.

Hi milad999,

I'm afraid the sentence does not make sense completely - the last part, after 'what', is not grammatical. Please check that you have copied the sentence correctly.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi

«The surrealistic movement in art in the 1920s and 1930s placed an emphasis on what is pictured in the unconscious and often incorporated dreamlike images.»

thanks.

Hi milad999,

Wh- clauses can function as subjects, objects or complements. Here, the wh- clause is the object of the preposition 'on'. The sentence has two verbs and can be can be seen like this:

The surrealistic movement in art in the 1920s and 1930s placed an emphasis on what is pictured in the unconscious and (the surrealist movement in art in the 1920s and 1930s) often incorporated dreamlike images

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello there,

Could you help me? I would like to know which among the three sentences is correct.
1. It is the reason why the temperature is low.
2. It is the reason that the temperatre is low.
3. It is the reason of which the temperature is low.

Thank you.

Hello moonshadow1008,

3 is definitely wrong, because the preposition 'of' is wrong; 'for' would be correct. I consider both 1 and 2 correct, though there are many who consider 1 incorrect, arguing that 'reason' and 'why' are redundant.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Now I understand. Thank you for your help.

is "why joining many while you can get them all in one?" correct? it is in the purpose of inviting people to join a club.

Hello Haqqul,

I'm afraid that I don't understand that sentence. Perhaps you mean something like 'Why join other clubs when you can find them all here?'?

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Okay then. It does really help me actually, so thank you very much

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