Which question word to use?

We use who to ask questions about people:

Who is that?
Who lives here?
Who did you see?

We use whose to ask about possession:

Whose coat is this? [or] Whose is this coat?
Whose book is that? [or] Whose is that book?
Whose bags are those? [or] Whose are those bags?

We use what to ask questions about things:

What is that?
What do you want?

We use which to ask someone to choose something:

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
I’ve got two books. Which do you want?

We can also use what and which with nouns:

What subjects did you study at school?
What newspaper do you read?
Which newspaper do you read – the Times or the Guardian?
Which book do you want?
Which one is yours?

Questions with prepositions:

Questions ending in prepositions are very common in English. After Who, Which or What we often have a preposition at the end of the sentence:

Who does this book belong to?
What are you looking for?
Which university did you go to?
What country do you come from?



Reorder the words to make questions




Hello Mrs.
Can I say
What newspaper do you read? - The Times or Washington Post ?
Which newspaper do you read – the Times or the Guardian?

Hello karogrig,

Our what and which page explains this in some detail. Normally 'which' would be used here, since there is a specific limited number of newspapers in question.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


Hello Team

I want to know about the usage of "what" and "which".
What news paper do you read?
which news parer do you read?
Which university did you go to?
What country do you come from?
When exactly does one use "what" and "which"

Hello Pavan Kaur,

We have a page on this topic which will help you with this. You can find it here.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

How long BEFORE did this occur ?
Can before be used to express past in this instance

How long SINCE the last bust departed?
Is the expression correct

How long UNTIL the next bus arrives ?
Can until be used to express future in this instance

Can you confirm this TO me?
Can TO be used for confirming conversation between 2 people

Please provide simple explanation on whether or not above statements correct

Hello SamJ,

I'm afraid we don't generally provide explanations of questions or sentences that don't come from our website. We also ask our users to explain to us in detail what they do and do not understand, as well as to ask specific questions, as this helps us to answer questions more effectively and also saves us time.

I'll answer your last question now, but to get answers to the others, please write them in separate comments and ask more specific questions. Normally, no phrase (such as 'to me') is used with the verb 'confirm', i.e. the most natural way to say this is simply 'Can you confirm this?' The idea of 'to me' is already understood.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Which came first? or Which did come first?

Hello Rahim,

'Which came first'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Teachers,

May I know what is the difference between reported questions and indirect questions? Is it a case where reported questions usually involve a backshift in tense when derived from a direct question, while in an indirect question, one need not change the tense, espicially of an indirect question embeded in a declarative sentence?


Hi Tim,

A reported question references the question directly using a verb such as 'asked':

He asked me what time it was.

We use reported questions to talk about questions which have already been asked.


An indirect question is one in which the question is being asked but in a polite and tentative manner. Indirect questions often take the form of questions about questions:

Would you mind telling me what time it is?

Can you tell me what time it is?

Do you know what the time is?

There is no tense shift here because the question has not yet been asked.

Grammatically the two are similar in that question word order is not needed.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team