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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! I'd like to ask about this example:

Let's say I met this new teacher (a foreigner) who has just moved to our school and i want to know what/which country and school they came from. Which determiner is more appropriate?

I often get confused on this one because I have this idea that we're familiar with the countries and schools where many foreign teachers in our area usually come from.

Thanks in advance for the advice.

Hello Timmy Ferrer,

I think in this case you could use either and it really wouldn't make very much difference.  You'd certainly use which if the choice of country had been limited in some way (such as by someone identifying which continent the person is from), but even if there is no indication you could use which.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I would be most grateful if someone could explain why there is no article in phrases such as e.g. the history of Italian Renaissance Sculpture (no article before Italian) or Masterpieces of Medieval Enamel. I intuitively understand that a) we are dealing with abstract entities - therefore no definite article, and b) we are not dealing with the whole bulk of objects existing in this category. I would be grateful, though, for the explanation from the native speaker. Many, many thanks

Hi IreneK,

As you say, these are abstract concepts rather than particular items, and so no article is used.

It's sometimes helpful to consider how the sentence would change if articles were used.

the history of an Italian Renaissance Sculpture - this would describe the history of one such sculpture which has not yet been identified to the listener/reader

the history of the Italian Renaissance Sculpture - this would describe the history of a particular sculpture which has been identified to the listener/reader

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

It's really interesting.

Hello. I think I couldn't understand properly the differences in the use of which and what.
Thanks for helping me.
Best regards.

Hello Diego Feital

We're happy to help you with specific questions. Could you please tell us a little more about what you don't understand?

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again Diego Feital

That's exactly right! There can be more than two options when we choose 'which' -- the idea is that it is a relatively limited set of options that is somehow present. For example, if we're in an ice cream shop and we can see the 12 flavours they have, we'd probably use 'which' because the options are there in front of us. But if you and I were on top of a mountain talking about food, 'what' would make more sense.

Well done!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir
Is the use of one word as adjective and verb in the same sentence correct ?
Example: Do you want to naked me?
2....I met Him

Hi Akong,

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any adjectives that can be used as a verb without some kind of change in form. Usually some kind of suffix or prefix is added, e.g. the adjective 'white' + '-en' = 'to whiten'.

'naked' can't be used as a verb in standard English so that sentence is not grammatical. In 2, 'met' is only a verb (the verb 'meet' in the past simple) and is not an adjective. I don't see how you could use it as an adjective, but if you have something specific in mind, please let us know.

By the way, could you please ask your questions on a relevant page? For example, since this one is about verbs and adjectives, it would make more sense somewhere in one of those sections instead of here. Thanks in advance for your cooperation with this.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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