The 9 most important interrogative words


In English one the most common ways to form questions is through the use of interrogative words, which allows the speakers or the learners of the language to impose their questions by choosing one of the interrogative words that will most probably suit their request for information. In this article, nine interrogative words are mentioned and explained briefly. It is massively important that English learners learn these interrogative words to form questions. 

Types of interrogative words

Interrogative words or wh-words as they are known in English, since most of the interrogative words start with the initials of wh-, mainly reside at the beginning of a question. There are up to ten of interrogative words found within the context of this language. This collection of interrogative words includes terms such as what, which, when, where, who, whom, whether, whose, why, and how. Below the most important  interrogative words are mentioned:


“What” can in fact have several functions in the structure of English and beside its use for asking questions about the name of different objects and a state of a situation, we can also use it to ask for the time.


This word is used for referring to a certain animal or an object within a sentence and could be a great term for connecting two separate entities and creating cohesion in some cases.


“When” is usually placed in front of sentence in which a person is asking for the time. This term could lead to the indication of the timing of a certain event and whether this event had happened in the past, present, or will be happening in the future.


In cases, which we wish to impose questions about someone or something’s location, we tend to use “where” at the beginning of our sentence.

Who? and Whom?

“Who” and “whom” are two of the ten previously mentioned interrogative words, which though carry the same meaning, they are not used within the same context. The difference between these two interrogative words lies within what will follow them in a question. Regarding the use of “whom”, we tend to use this interrogative words where it will be accompanied by the name of a person or a pronoun, while in relation to the use of “who”, there is no need of such rule and our question could start with this word as long as there is no sign of a human name or a pronoun.  


When we wish to ask questions about two different and opposite things, it is important to start our interrogative sentence with a term like “whether”, which can be the perfect word for comparing something as simple as two words and as long as two sentences.


Sometimes we may choose to ask about someone’s belongings by imposing questions about the owner of an object or anything similar that may be owned by a person. Therefore, in such cases the best interrogative words is to use “whose”.


“why” is common interrogative words for its use in questions, which wish to dig behind the reasons of a certain occurrence or a decision made by an individual, and when a question is started with “why”, the respondent is expected to give as much clarification as needed.


Beside “why”, “how” is also considered to be one of the wh- words to ask for the person’s clarification by requesting him/her to talk about the series of specific events and their sequence of occurrence.


interrogative words

As far as we know both questions and answers could come in different lengths and forms in English. Since there should be a certain rule to pose questions and receive a response in return, the best suggested solution for asking questions in English is through the use of interrogative words, which are better known as what, which, when, where, who, whom, whether, whose, why, and how.


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