A wh-question is a question that contains an interrogative pro-form.

Also known as: Examples (English)

Content question, question word question, information question

Here are some examples of words that begin wh-questions in English. Most of them begin with wh-:

• • • • • •

who what when where why how

Generic A wh-question is a kind of Definition
Here are two senses of question:

1. A question is an illocutionary act that has a directive illocutionary point of attempting to get the addressee to supply information. 2. A question is a sentence type that has a form (labeled interrogative) typically used to express an illocutionary act with the directive illocutionary point mentioned above. It may be actually so used (as a direct illocution), or used rhetorically. Examples (English)
Here are some examples of sentences, ordered to illustrate the two senses of question above: 1. An illocutionary act that attempts to obtain information from an addressee


Sentences with inverted word order or interrogative pro-forms

• • • •

Tell me your name. Give me your address. What’s your name? Did you sleep well?

A yes-no question is a question for which an answer of yes or no is acceptable. In some languages, a yes-no question is formally distinguished by features, such as

rising sentence-final intonation

• • •

a sentence-initial or sentence-final particle verb morphology a difference of word order, such as the placement of the verb closer to the beginning of the sentence than in the declarative sentence, and an interrogative clitic that attaches to the item in the sentence that is being questioned.

Wh - Ques tions allow a speaker to find out more information about topics. They are as follows: When? Time
Where? Who? Why? How? What? Place Person Reason Manner Object/Idea/Action

Other words can also be used to inquire about specific information: Which (one)? Choice of alternatives
Whose? Whom? How much? How many? How long? How often? How far? What kind (of)? Possession Person (objective formal) Price, amount (non-count) Quantity (count) Duration Frequency Distance Description

The "grammar" used with wh- questions depends on whether the topic being asked about is the "subject" or "predicate" of a sentence. For the subject pattern, simply replace the person or thing being asked about with the appropriate wh-word. (Someone has my baseball.) Who has my baseball?
(Something is bothering you.) What is bothering you?

For the predicate pattern, wh- question formation depends on whether there is an "auxiliary" verb in the original sentence. Auxiliary or "helping" verbs are verbs that precede main verbs. Auxiliary verbs are italicized in the following sentences. I can do it. They are leaving. I have eaten my lunch. I should have finished my homework. To make a question using the predicate pattern, first form a yes/no question by inverting the subject and (first) auxi lia ry verb. Then, add the appropriate wh- word to the beginning of the sentence.

? will you leave When will you leave? (He is doing something.) ? is he doing What is he doing? (They have been somewhere.) ? have they been Where have they been? If there is no a uxili ary and the verb is "be," invert the subject and verb, then add the appropriate wh- word to the beginning of the sentence. (He is someone.) ? is he Who is he? (The meeting was some time.) ? was the meeting When was the meeting? If there is no a uxili ary and the verb is not "be," add do to the beginning of the sentence. Then add the appropriate wh-question word. Be sure to "transfer" the tense and number from the main verb to the word do . (You want something.) ? do you want What do you want? (You went somewhere.) ? di d you go (past tense) Where did you go? (She likes something.) ? do es she like (third person -s) What does she like?

(You will leave some time.)

WH Question Words
We use question words to ask certain types of questions (question word questions). We often refer to them as WH words because they include the letters WH (for example WHy, How). Question Word what Function asking for information about something asking for repetition or confirmation Example What is your name?

What? I can't hear you. You did what? What did you do that for? When did he leave? Where do they live? Which colour do you want? Who opened the door?

what...for when where which who

asking for a reason, asking why asking about time asking in or at what place or position asking about choice asking what or which person or people (subject) asking what or which person or people (object) asking about ownership


Whom did you see?


Whose are these keys? Whose turn is it? Why do you say that? Why don't I help you? How does this work? How was your exam? see examples below

why why don't how

asking for reason, asking what...for making a suggestion asking about manner asking about condition or quality

how + adj/adv

asking about extent or degree

how far


How far is Pattaya from Bangkok? How long will it take? How many cars are there? How much money do you have? How old are you? How come I can't see her?

how long how many how much

length (time or space) quantity (countable) quantity (uncountable)

how old how come (informal)

age asking for reason, asking why

Example: The train arrived at ten o’clock. (what time) What time did the train arrive? 1. They do their homework at night. (when) 2. Mr. Robertson came to the party alone. (who) 3. The car is across the street from the house. (where) 4. I like the red blouse, not the blue one. (which) 5. She felt better after she took a nap. (how) 6. That is an English book. (what) 7. My sister called her boyfriend yesterday (when) 8. She talked to him for an hour. (how long) 9. He studies piano at the university. (what) 10. The party lasted all night. (how long) 11. The check was for $5.50. (how much) 12. She was eating a sandwich. (what) 13. She is working hard. (what) 14. My parents have two cars. (how many) 15. They are coming to visit tomorrow. (when) 16. He is going to work right now. (where) 17. The man with the white hat is my brother. (who) 18. I don’t get up early because I like to sleep late. (why) 19. We have an English class every day. (how often) 20. They like to dance on weekends. (what) 21. The club is not far from their house. (where) 22. Their favorite kind of music is Latin Jazz. (what) 23. I didn’t bring my dictionary today. (why) 24. They are singing popular songs. (what kind) Answer :

When do they do their homework. 2. Who did Mr. Robertson come to the party with? 3. Where is the car? 4. Which blouse do you like? 5. How did she feel? 6. What kind of book is that?/ What is that?/ What is that book? 7. When did your sister call her boyfriend? 9. What does he study at the university? 10. How long did the party last? 11. How much was the check for? 13. What is she doing? 14. How many cars do your parents have? 15. When are they coming to visit? 16. Where is he going right now? 17. Who is the man with the white hat? 18. Why don't you get up early? 19. How often do you have an English class? 20. What do they like to do on weekends? 21. Where is the club? 22. What is their favorite kind of music? 23. Why didn't you bring your dictionary today? 24. What kind of songs are they singing?

Exercise 5: wh- questions
Click on the words in the correct order.

Exercise 5: wh- questions
Click on the words in the correct order.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

to you bed? When do go tennis? play Where do they he does When homework? his do have Where dinner? you do she Where go does skiing? watch television? they do When

Answer :

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

to you bed? When do go tennis? play Where do they he does When homework? his do have Where dinner? you do she Where go does skiing? watch television? they do When

Exercise 3, Wh- Questions Ask a wh- question. Begin each question with the words given after each statement. a. She should address the letter to Mrs. Mary Johnson. Who… b. The letter should be dated October 1. When… c. She should use 1-inch margins. What size margins… d. She’ll be able to proofread it for us before lunch. When… e. She found a typo in the third sentence of the second paragraph. Where… f. She will need to make 20 copies of it. How many… g. She wants it on 8-1/2 x 11 paper. What size… h. She wants it on goldenrod paper. What color… i. She would like us to send it by Federal Express. How…

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