English Question Words

Question Words Explained

WH
Question Words in English. Public Domain

Question words are used to ask about specific qualities, times, places, and people:

How often do you go to the movies?
Where did they buy that car?
What kind of friend do you prefer?

Questions with question words such as wherewhat time, and why are different from yes / no questions because they ask for specific information. This page provides questions formed using question words and provides an explanation and examples for context.

Once you've finished reviewing these common question words, take the quiz to test your understanding.

Who

Use who to ask questions about people. You can use who in object questions:

Who do you like?
Who has he decided to hire for the job?

Use who as the subject in subject questions. In this case, the sentence structure is similar to positive sentences:

Who studies Russian?
Who would like to take a vacation?

Note: Use of Whom

In formal English, whom is also used following a preposition:

To whom should I address this letter?
For whom is this present?

What

Use what to ask about things or actions in object questions:

What does he do at weekends?
What do you like to eat for dessert?

What ... Like?

Use the form what ... like to ask for character descriptions about people, things, and places:

What was the weather like?
What is Mary like?

What ... Look Like?

Use what ... like to ask for physical descriptions of people, things, and places:

What does Alice look like?
What does your house look like?

What kind of / type of

Use what kind of / type of followed by a noun when asking about specific things or characteristics:

What type of car do you drive?
What kind of person is he?

What kind of / type of can also be used in subject questions:

What kind of food tastes sweet?
What type of computer takes this plug?

When

When is used to ask about times which can be specific or general:

When do you like going out?
When does the bus leave?

What time

If you would like to ask for a specific time, use what time:

What time is it?
What time does the show begin?

Where

Where is used to ask about places:

Where do you live?
Where did you go on vacation?

How

How is combined with adjectives to ask questions about specific characteristics, qualities and quantities. Some of the most common include: how much for price, how long for length of time, how often for frequency, how tall for height: 

How often do you go to the movies?
How long was the film?
How tall are you?
How sad did she seem?
How much does it cost?

Use how many plus a noun to ask for specific quantities:

How many friends do you have?
How many cars do you need?

Which

Use which plus a noun when choosing between a number of items:

Which book did you buy?
Which boy won the race?

Which kind of / type of

Use which kind of / type of followed by a noun to ask for a specific model or function:

Which kind of apple do you prefer?
What type of books do you read?

Which kind of / type of can also be used in subject questions:

What kind of food tastes sweet?
What type of computer takes this plug?

Question Words Quiz

Provide the missing question words:

  1. ____ is the weather like in July?
  2. ____ much is the chocolate?
  3. ____ boy won the race last week?
  4. ____ did you get up this morning?
  5. ____ team won the World Cup in 2002?
  6. ____ does Janet live?
  7. ____ long does the concert last?
  8. ____ food do you like?
  9. ____ does it take to get to New York from Albany?
  10. ____ does the movie begin this evening?
  11. To ____ do you report at work?
  12. ____ is your favorite actor?
  13. ____ house does he live in?
  14. ____ is Jack like?
  15. ____ does the building look like?
  16. ____ does she study English with?
  17. ____ do the people in your country go for vacation?
  18. ____ do you play tennis?
  19. ____ sports do you play?
  20. ____ is your doctor's appointment next week?

Answers:

  1. What
  2. How
  3. Which
  4. What time / When
  5. Which
  6. Where
  7. How
  8. What kind of / What type of
  9. How long
  10. What time / when
  11. Whom - formal English
  1. Who
  2. Which
  3. What
  4. What
  5. Who
  6. Where
  7. How often / When
  8. Which / How many
  9. What time / When
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Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "English Question Words." ThoughtCo, Sep. 14, 2017, thoughtco.com/english-question-words-1210674. Beare, Kenneth. (2017, September 14). English Question Words. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/english-question-words-1210674 Beare, Kenneth. "English Question Words." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/english-question-words-1210674 (accessed December 14, 2017).