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Interrogative determiners: 'which' and 'what'

Level: intermediate

The interrogative determiners are which and what.

which is a specific determiner

Here are three books. Which book do you think is the most interesting?
They have four boys. Which boy is the oldest?
I can’t remember which house Janet lives in.
Which restaurant did you go to?

 

what is a general determiner

What food do you like?
I don’t know what job she does.

Interrogative determiners 1

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Interrogative determiners 2

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Comments

Hello Gobin Sonowal,

Both 'a' and 'the' are possible here - which one is correct depends on the context. Please see our English Grammar section on Articles and our Quick Grammar page on Articles for explanations of the differences between them.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hello sir
the statement : what films do you like?
it can't be understood that its also a question about (type) of films you prefer ?
thank you

Hello dentist iraq,

You are correct: this can be a question about specific films of kinds of film, depending on the context. A more likely question would be 'What kind(s) of films do you like?' if the context did not make it clear that we were talking about types.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Who can explaine me, what differeсе between "Which restaurant did you go to?" and "What university did you go to?" Why in first example "Wich" and "what" in second? Fore several reasons I think there are two spesific groups, aren`n they?

Hello Xiryrgus,

I explained this a bit more in my response to andrew international below. Please take a look at that and then if you still have a question after that, don't hesitate to ask.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

I was just wondering which of the following sentences would be considered as an interrogative determiner?

a) What is your biggest strength?
b) What difference would it have made?
c) How can you know what I've been through?
d) Did he say what he wanted?

I know that for interrogative determiners, the what usually precedes the noun. I am stuck between a) and b) because the sentence in a) can be switched to "What strength is your biggest?" and the what would then precede the noun. Thank you

Hello bern91,

Sentence b) has an interrogative determiner: 'what'. a) and c) have interrogative pronouns and d) has no interrogative word.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello KBW,

Yes, you're right – I'm sorry for the confusion! I was looking at the beginnings of the sentences and should have been careful.

Thanks for pointing this out.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
Which school did you go to?
What school did you go to?
According to your lesson second one is correct not the first. I am I right
but not the first. Would you please explain a bit more about this
Thank you.

Dear andrew,

'which' is used when you have a limited number of options in mind. These options are clear from the context. 'what' is used when you don't have any options in mind. For example, imagine we'd just begun talking about university education; I would ask 'What university did you go to?' if we hadn't yet discussed any specific universities. On the other hand, if you told me that you had studied in Boston, I would probably ask 'Which university did you go to?' since there are a limited number of universities in Boston. As you can see, the context is key.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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