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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




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,
The LearnEnglish Team


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,
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,
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,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Ivanka,

Thanks very much for your kind comment! All of us on the LearnEnglish Team do this because we enjoy it, but of course it's always nice to hear appreciative comments like yours! I'm so glad that you find LearnEnglish useful and wish you the best.

Best regards,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello everyone

I got confused with one of the examples. I don't understand clearly why it's not correcto to use "which" to ask about the university they went. It's not similar to ask about the restaurant?

Thanks in advanced for your help

Hello Diana,

Actually, you could use 'which' as well to ask about the university if there was a group of universities you'd been speaking about. For example, if I just met you, I would probably use 'what' to ask this question, as there would be no context. If, however, we met and then I asked you how many universities there were in your city and what their names were, 'which' would make more sense in the same question.

The same would be true of restaurants or anything else. It's not indicated, but the sentence above with 'which restaurant' supposes that the context was speaking about restaurants.

If you have any more questions about this, please let us know.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team