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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

Should I say "what's your favourite day of the week" or "which is your favorite day of the week"? Many English guidelines say that we should use "which" when there's a limited set of choices. In this case, is it better to use "which" in that sentence?

Hello gabriel,

The important thing is not whether there is a limited set of choices so much as it is that a set of choices has already been discussed. In the case of the days of the week, if you'd already been discussing Friday and Wednesday, for example, then 'which' would be the best choice. But if you haven't mentioned specific ones yet, then 'what' would be the correct choice.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi!
In examples mentioned above under interrogative determiner, there is no mention about peoples or thing instead its a place in both the examples. In eg.
a. Restaurant and b. Countries, South America.
Which restaurant did you go to?
Which countries in South America have you visited? so, can we use What instead of which? It sounds a general question to me. Mr. Kirk please solve my confusion. Thanks

Hello again drsachin,

The questions themselves don't provide enough context for you to be able to decide accurately between 'what' or 'which'. Please see my response to Imjustaguy below, as well Peter's response to zagrus. Our two comments should help clarify this for you, I think, though please feel to ask us further questions if you have any.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

If i asked question like this;
who do you thinks you are? or whom do you thinks you are?

which one is correct?

thank
Jezira

Hello Jezira,

In this case, 'who' is the correct form. Also, in general, 'whom' is quite rare in speaking -- most people use 'who' instead of 'whom'.

Please note that the verb is incorrect in your question; the correct form is: 'Who do you think you are?'

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for acceptance

hello sir i don't speak English , how to try best way spoken English ?

Hello manukumar,

I would recommend you read the How to improve your speaking section on our Frequently asked questions page, where you will find advice on how to use our site for that purpose. Our Facebook page also has lots of useful ideas and links.

Good luck!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
I hear lots of teachers asking students at school, " what grade are you?" Why do not we use " which" instead as there are limited number of grades, i.e. 1 - 12?

Best wishes,
Abdullah

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