Interrogative Pronouns: List of Interrogative Pronouns and Explanation

Have you ever wondered how we dig deeper, explore, and seek answers in conversations? It’s all thanks to a special set of words called interrogative pronouns. These linguistic wonders hold the key to asking questions effectively in English. Get ready to learn everything about interrogative pronouns. From the simple “who” and “what” to the intriguing “whose” and “whom,” we’ll explore their usage, and provide real-life examples, to help you enhance your English grammar and language.

What Are Interrogative Pronouns?

Imagine a world without questions—no curiosity, no learning, and definitely no quizzes! Interrogative pronouns are our trusty allies in forming questions. They help us gather information, clarify doubts, and spark engaging conversations. In a nutshell, these pronouns are like keys that unlock the door to information.

Interrogative Pronouns Definition

Interrogative pronouns are a type of pronoun that is used to introduce questions and inquiries in sentences. They replace nouns and are specifically designed to seek information about people, things, actions, qualities, or ideas. Interrogative pronouns guide conversations by initiating queries and directing attention toward the subject of the question. Interrogative pronouns include words like “who,” “what,” “which,” and “whom.”

Interrogative Pronouns Examples

There are mainly 5 Interrogative pronouns in the English language.

  1. Who: Refers to people or persons.
  2. Whom: Also refers to people, often used as an object in a sentence.
  3. What: Refers to things or actions.
  4. Which: Refers to a specific choice or selection among alternatives.
  5. Whose: Indicates possession or ownership.

List of Interrogative Pronouns and Explanation

Let’s explore these common interrogative pronouns with explanations and examples for better understanding.

1. Who: This interrogative pronoun is your go-to for discovering people and their identities. Use it to ask about individuals or groups.

  • Example: “Who is the new student in class?”
  • Example: “Who are your favorite authors?”

2. What: Curious about things, actions, or ideas? “What” is your ticket to uncovering information about objects, events, and concepts.

  • Example: “What is your favorite movie?”
  • Example: “What did you do over the weekend?”

3. Which: When options abound, “which” steps in. It helps you choose among alternatives and clarify preferences.

  • Example: “Which flavor of ice cream do you want?”
  • Example: “Which route should we take to the park?”

4. Whose: Dive into the realm of possession with “whose.” It helps you figure out the owner or source of something.

  • Example: “Whose notebook is this?”
  • Example: “Whose idea was it to plan a picnic in summer?”

5. Whom: Need to focus on the object of an action? “Whom” directs your inquiry toward the receiver of an action.

  • Example: “To whom did you lend your umbrella?”
  • Example: “Whom did she invite to the event?”

      Interrogative vs. Relative Pronouns

      Pronouns serve as connectors in sentences, and interrogative and relative pronouns are two important types. Though they serve distinct purposes, their similarities might lead to confusion. Let’s unravel the differences between interrogative and relative pronouns to enhance your understanding of these two types of pronouns.

      Interrogative pronouns directly introduce questions, seeking answers to uncover details about people, things, actions, or ideas.

      Examples:

      • “What is the core topic of the presentation?”
      • “Which book did your mother borrow from the library?”

      In each instance, interrogative pronouns lead the way, initiating inquiries into the unknown.

      Now, imagine you’re crafting a sentence that connects two ideas. Relative pronouns step in as the bridge between these concepts. They link a dependent clause (providing additional information) to an independent clause (expressing a complete thought).

      Examples:

      • “The person who won the race is my friend.”
      • “I read the book that you recommended.”

      In these examples, relative pronouns (like “who,” and “that”) not only connect but also introduce crucial information to provide context.

      Interrogative PronounsRelative Pronouns
      PurposeInitiate questions to seek information.Connect ideas by introducing dependent clauses.
      ExamplesWho, What, Which, Whose, WhomWho, Which, Whose, Whom, That
      FunctionLead inquiries into unknown details.Bridge independent and dependent clauses with context.
      Example SentencesWho won the game?
      What is the solution?
      The person who won is my friend.
      This is the car that I bought last week.

      Who vs. Whom

      The “who” and “whom” duo often prompt questions of their own: When do you use “who,” and when should you opt for “whom”?

      “Who” is the subject pronoun, use it when you’re talking about the subject of a sentence. It’s like shining a spotlight on someone who’s actively doing something. If the person you’re referring to is performing the action, you’d typically use “who.” For example: “Who is joining us for dinner?” In this case, “who” identifies the person (subject) who will be participating in the action (joining for dinner).

      “Whom” is the object pronoun, and takes on the role of the object—a recipient of the action. It often appears after prepositions like “to,” “for,” “with,” or “by.” If the person is on the receiving end of an action, you’ll usually find “whom.” For example: “To whom should I address the letter?” Here, “whom” is used because the person is the recipient of the action (addressing the letter).

      Quick Tips for Choosing:

      • Subject Role: If the person is doing the action, use “who.”
      • Object Role: If the person is receiving the action, particularly after a preposition, opt for “whom.”

      What vs. Which

      Navigating between “what” and “which” might seem like choosing between similar options, but each has its distinct role in crafting questions.

      “When” you want to inquire about a general thing, action, or idea, “what” is your trusty companion. It opens the door to exploration, allowing you to gather information without specifying particular options. For instance: “What is your favorite hobby?” Here, “what” seeks a broad category—your preferred leisure activity.

      “Which” comes into play when choices abound. It’s your tool for selecting from a set of options, making your question more specific by indicating a range to choose from. “Which movie are we watching tonight?” In this instance, “which” highlights that there’s a selection of movies available, and you’re asking for a decision among them.

      Quick Tips for Choosing:

      • General Inquiry: If you’re seeking general information, opt for “what.”
      • Choice Inquiry: If you’re offering options or looking for a selection, go with “which.”

      Interrogative Pronouns vs. Interrogative Adjectives

      When it comes to interrogative pronouns and interrogative adjectives, the ground might seem similar, but they each have their distinct roles in English grammar. Key Difference: Interrogative pronouns stand alone and replace nouns, while interrogative adjectives modify nouns and work alongside them in questions.

      Interrogative Pronouns: Think of interrogative pronouns as the question makers themselves. They stand alone in sentences and directly ask about something. They replace nouns in questions to uncover information. For example: “Who is coming to the party tonight?” Here, “who” is the interrogative pronoun because it’s asking about a person, replacing the need for a noun.

      Interrogative Adjectives: Now, picture interrogative adjectives as the question-asking sidekicks. They modify nouns and show up in questions that inquire about specific qualities or details of the noun. For example: “Which book are you reading?” In this case, “which” is the interrogative adjective because it’s modifying the noun “book” and asking about a specific quality.

      Using Both: It’s important to note that sometimes, both interrogative pronouns and interrogative adjectives can appear in the same question, depending on the depth of the inquiry. Example: Which book are you reading, and what is it about?” Here, “which” (interrogative adjective) modifies “book,” and “what” (interrogative pronoun) directly asks about the subject of the book.

      So, when crafting questions, remember that interrogative pronouns are your go-to for direct inquiries, while interrogative adjectives add specific details to your questions about nouns. Together, they create a harmonious duo that fuels your language curiosity.

      Interrogative Pronouns in Different Voices

      Interrogative pronouns can effortlessly adapt to different voices in a sentence. The voice of a sentence—whether active or passive—can significantly impact how information is presented. Let’s explore how interrogative pronouns seamlessly integrate into different voices, adding shades to your questions:

      1. Active Voice:

      When we use active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action. Interrogative pronouns in the active voice highlight the doer of the action, creating questions that engage with a sense of agency.

      Examples:

      • “Who made this delicious cake?”
      • “What inspired you to start painting?”
      • “Why did she choose that particular dress?”

      These questions shine a spotlight on the individuals responsible for the actions, inviting discussions about their intentions and contributions.

      2. Passive Voice:

      On the other hand, in the passive voice, the subject of the sentence receives the action. Interrogative pronouns in the passive voice focus on the recipient of the action, allowing you to delve into processes and outcomes.

      Examples:

      • “By whom was this beautiful painting created?”
      • “For what purpose was this research conducted?”
      • “How was this impressive structure designed?”

      These questions lead conversations into the realm of processes, impacts, and the results of actions taken.

      3. A Harmonious Blend:

      Interrogative pronouns seamlessly adapt to both voices, allowing you to craft questions that suit the tone and emphasis of your communication. Whether you want to highlight the doer or receiver of an action, these pronouns play a pivotal role in creating well-rounded questions.

      Examples:

      • “Who invited you to the event?” (Active Voice)
      • “By whom were these breathtaking photos captured?” (Passive Voice)
      • “What motivated you to write this heartfelt letter?” (Active Voice)
      • “For what reason was this decision all the way supported?” (Passive Voice)

      Interrogative Pronouns Examples in Sentences

      Here are some more real-life examples of interrogative pronouns to help you understand their use.

      1. Who: “Who” is your spotlight on individuals. Use it to ask about people and identities.

      • “Who is that person over there?”
      • “Who did you visit after school yesterday?”
      • “Who won the game last night?”

      2. What: “What” is your inquiry into things, actions, or ideas. It helps you dive deeper into the subject matter.

      • “What does this button do?”
      • “What is your favorite subject in school?”
      • “What did Harry have for breakfast this morning?”

      3. Which: “Which” comes into play when choices need to be made. It helps you single out specific options.

      • “Which color does Sonia prefer, green or blue?”
      • “Which novel are you planning to read next?”
      • “Which restaurant should we go to for dinner?”

      4. Whose: “Whose” leads you to ownership and possession. It reveals the individual associated with something.

      • “Whose bicycle is parked outside?”
      • “Whose dog is barking loudly?”
      • “Whose idea was it to start up the charity event?”

      5. Whom: “Whom” directs your attention to the receiver of an action. It’s particularly useful in formal contexts.

      • “To whom did you send the invitation?”
      • “With whom are you collaborating on this project?”
      • “Whom did she choose as her partner for the dance?”

      Interrogative Pronouns Exercises

      Here are some exercises for you to practice using interrogative pronouns, along with their corresponding answer keys:

      Exercise 1: Choose the Correct Interrogative Pronoun

      Choose the appropriate interrogative pronoun (who, what, which, whose, whom) to complete each sentence.

      1. ___________ is going to the cinema with you tonight?
      2. ___________ is your favorite color?
      3. ___________ book are you reading right now?
      4. To ___________ does this wallet belong?
      5. ___________ did you invite to your birthday party?
      6. ___________ is responsible for this impressive artwork?
      7. ___________ are you planning to meet at the event?
      8. ___________ should I contact regarding the job vacancy?
      9. ___________ do you think will win the award?
      10. ___________ of these options do you prefer?

      Exercise 2: Formulate Questions

      Rewrite the following statements as questions using the appropriate interrogative pronoun.

      1. She is my best friend.
      2. The movie starts at 7 PM.
      3. The cat belongs to John.
      4. They are discussing the new project.
      5. The red car is mine.
      6. She is interviewing for the position.
      7. The treasure was discovered in the cave.
      8. The chef prepared a special dish.
      9. He built the house on the hill.
      10. The committee selected the winner.

      Answer Keys

      Exercise 1:

      1. Who
      2. What
      3. Which
      4. Whom
      5. Whom
      6. who
      7. whom
      8. whom
      9. who
      10. which

      Exercise 2:

      1. Who is my best friend?
      2. What time does the movie start?
      3. Whose cat is it?
      4. What are they discussing?
      5. Which car is mine?
      6. For whom is she interviewing?
      7. In which cave was the treasure discovered?
      8. What special dish did the chef prepare?
      9. On which hill did he build the house?
      10. Which winner did the committee select?

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