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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


Interrogative determiners 2




Thanks for your time.

What's the difference between these?
Which restaurant did you go to?
What university did you go to?
both are specific


As we say on the page, 'which' is usually specific: it asks for a choice from a known group. 'What' is usually more general: it asks for a choice without restrictions. For example:

Which is your favourite film? [showing three or four to choose from]

What is your favourite film? [you can choose any film]

If the speaker says 'Which restaurant...?' then I would understand that we are choosing from a restricted group: the ones on a particular street, or the ones we were talking about before, for example.

If the speaker says 'What university...?' then I would assume the speaker has no idea which universities were possible, likely or accessible, and is asking generally.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

What about if i live in England and what will the question if somebody wants to know my city. Will the question be: what city or which city? Thanks in advance

Hello Bassnanga,

That really depends on how the person asking the questions perceives the situation. If you've just talked about different cities, for example, 'which' (as the explanation above indicates) would be used since the topic of cities has already been mentioned. If, on the other hand, the topic of where you live hasn't been mentioned, 'what' would be used.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

hi i have a question that we can have full file as grammar to print it and use it when we haven't PC . if is possible how and where can i have it . thanks for your attention

Hello abbas,

I'm afraid that our Grammar Reference is not available in a printable format, but if you have a smartphone or tablet, there are several free apps designed for improving your grammar knowledge. For example, there's our LearnEnglish Grammar app - but be sure to look on our Apps page for a complete listing. 

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, i can read & understand meaning of a particular sentence, but i can't write the same sentence individually. what i do make a sentence correct ?

Hello K Balamurugan,

I'm afraid I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Perhaps it would help for you to break the sentences into meaningful chunks - this could help you understand how the pieces fit together.

For example, the sentence 'We have taken 70 wickets in seven matches and bowled out the opposition every time, so we know what we need to do. We are ready for anything we get' (from the BBC) can be broken into parts in different ways, but here's one: 'We have taken' (subject and verb), '70 wickets' (object of verb), 'in seven matches' (time expression), 'and bowled out the opposition' (second verb and object), 'every time' (time expression), 'so' (connecting conjunction), 'we know' (subject and verb), 'what we need to do' (relative pronoun + subject and verb + infinitive). 

I hope this gives you some ideas.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi there. I wanna speak enlish. please help me :)