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1. Question words

Question words (QW) are those words used to formulate and introduce interrogative sentences where the answer is not a yes or a no, but an open one.

WHO?
WHAT?
WHEN?
WHERE?
HOW?
WHY?
WHOSE?
WHICH?

2. How are question words used?

The question words are placed at the beginning of the sentence and follow these structures:

When the main verb is the verb to be:

QW + to be + subject + (complement)

When the main verb is not the verb to be:

QW + auxiliary verb + subject + main verb + (complement)

Both the verb to be in the first case and the auxiliary verb in the second case will correspond to the verb tense being used (to be: am, is, was...) (auxiliary: do, did, will...).

3. Different question words 

  • WHO?
    To ask for information about a person's identity.
    Who is that boy?
    Who is the youngest?
  • WHAT?
    To ask for information about the nature or identity of a thing or object
    What does this mean?
    What is the meaning of your name?

    What can be combined with a noun to ask certain questions.

    Question word Noun Examples
    WHAT colour What colour are her eyes?
    size What size are you?
    kind (of) What kind of films do you usually watch?
    day What day is it tomorrow?
    time What time do you go to school?

    What is also used with like and look like to ask for a description of a person, a place or an object.

    - When we want to ask about someone's physical appearance:

    What + auxiliary verb + subject + look like?
    - What does your sister look like?
    - She is tall, blonde and has blue eyes.

    - When we want to ask about a person's character:

    What + to be + subject + like?
    - What is your mother like?
    - She is funny but strict.

    - When we want to describe places, objects, the weather:

    What + to be + subject + like?
    - What was the weather like yesterday?
    - It was sunny but windy.
  • WHEN?

    To ask at what time or time period an event takes place.

    When do I start the holidays?
    When do you finish classes?
  • WHERE?

    To ask in which place the action happens.

    Where is your car?
    Where is the bus station?
  • HOW? 

    To ask in what way an action is carried out. It is also used to find out about people and animals' mood or health and also as a way to greet people.

    How do you cook sushi?
    How are you?

    How can also be used together with an adverb or an adjective to ask for the degree of a quality.

    Question word Noun Examples
    HOW tall How tall is your son?
    big How big is a plane?
    fast How fast can you run?
    high How high is Mount Everest?
    deep How deep is the river?
    heavy How heavy is this box?
    far How far is the nearest village?
    old How old is your dog?
  • WHY?

    To ask for information about the cause or reason for something.

    Why are you so happy?
    Why can't we swim?
    The answer to why is mainly introduced by the word because.
    - Why can you speak German?
    - Because I'm from Germany.
  • WHOSE?

    To know which person a thing belongs to.

    Whose is that pencil?
    Whose are the trousers?
  • WHICH?

    To ask for a specific choice when there is a limited number of possibilities.

    Which season is your favourite?
    Which of these actors do you prefer?
    Remember that in English, unlike in other languages, only one question mark and one exclamation mark is used, and it's placed at the end of the sentence.
    Whose is that pencil?
    ¿Whose is that pencil?
    Be careful!
    ¡Be careful!

Remember!

Question words (QW) are those words used to formulate and introduce interrogative sentences where the answer is not a yes or a no, but an open one.
Question word Use Examples
Who Information about someone's identity Who are you?
What? Information about the nature or identity of something What are you doing?
What + noun? For specific information about something What time is it?
What ... like? Asking about a person's character What is your aunt like?
Asking for a description of a place, object... What is your room like?
What ... look like? Asking about a person's physical appearance What does your grandfather look like?
When? At what time something happened When do you finish school?
Where? Location Where is Mary?
How? In what way, to know about someone's health or to greet people How are you?
How + adj? Asking for the degree of a quality How deep is the ocean?
Why? Cause or reason Why can't you jump?
Whose? Which person a thing belongs to Whose is this book?
Which? To ask for a specific choice when there is a limited number of possibilities. Which season is your favourite?

 

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