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Pronouns in questions

Level: beginner

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?

Pronouns in questions 1


We often have a preposition at the end of a question:

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

Pronouns in questions 2


Pronouns in questions 3



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


Can we say: "Who do these cars belong to?" and "Who do those pens belong to?"

Hello Firas961,

Yes, those questions are perfectly fine.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

refer to above example, which states:
- What subjects did you study at school?

Can we write it as:
- What are subjects did you study at school?

Hello Amin Maryoud,

I'm afraid the sentence you wrote is not grammatical. You could say, however, 'What are the subjects you studied at school?' But most of the time we'd probably just use the example sentence above on this page.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Both "What country do you live?" and "Which country do you live?" are correct?

Hello Elmar,

Yes, both 'what' and 'which' are correct, though please note that both questions need the preposition 'in' at the end of them (e.g. 'What country do you live in?').

We use 'what' when we're talking in general and 'which' when we have a specific group of countries in mind. You can read more about this on this page. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask us.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,

I have a question: in the clause I have got two books. Which do you want?, the correct question wasn't: Which one do you want?