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8/17/2016 Interrogative Pronouns

InterrogativePronouns
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TheFarlexGrammarBook>EnglishGrammar>PartsofSpeech>Pronouns>InterrogativePronouns

InterrogativePronouns
Definition
Interrogativepronounsareusedininterrogativesentencestoaskquestions,functioningeitherasthesubjector
objectofsuchsentences.Therearefiveprimaryinterrogativepronouns:who,whom,whose,which,andwhat.

Thereareotherinterrogativepronounsaswellthatareusedforemphaticpurposes,whichwellcoverlaterinthis
section.

Usinginterrogativepronouns
DirectQuestions
Mostoften,interrogativepronounsareusedindirectquestions,representingthepersonorthingthatisbeingasked
about.Indirectquestions,theinterrogativepronounusuallycomesatornearthebeginningoftheinterrogative
clause,actingaseitherthesubjectorobjectofthesentence.Forexample:
Whoiscomingtothepartytonight?(subject)
WhomdidyouasktofillinforMr.Smith?(object)*
Whoseisthiscomputer?(subject)
So,whichwillitbe:$10,000oranewsportscar?(object)
Whatdoyouexpectmetodo,exactly?(object)

Aninterrogativepronouniseasytoidentifybecauseitcanstandonitsowninasentenceandtakesthegrammatical
functionofanoun.Otherquestionwords,ontheotherhand,actasadverbswhentheystandalone,asin:
Howdidyoufindme?(Howmodifiestheverbfind.)
Whenareweleaving?(Whenmodifiestheverbleaving.)
Whydidwestay?(Whymodifiestheverbstay.)

(*UsageNote:WhomisbecomingincreasinglyrareinmodernEnglish.Althoughitistechnicallymoreaccurateto
usewhomwhenitfunctionsastheobjectofaverbandwhowhenitfunctionsasthesubject,itisnowmuchmore
commontousewhoinbothcases.)

IndirectQuestions
Interrogativepronounscanalsoappearwithinindirectquestions.Whenthishappens,theyappearinthemiddleof
thesentence.Indirectquestionsaresometimesusedtoasksomethinginamorepoliteway,asin:
Couldyoutellmewhosetheseare?
WouldyoumindtellingmewhichImsupposedtobring?
Doyouknowwhatweredoinghere?

Othertimes,indirectquestionsareusedforemphasistoconveysurprise:
Shewantswhotocometotheparty?
YouregoingtodowhatinNewYorkCity?
Hesgoingtoaskwhomoutonadate?
Insuchcases,emphasisisputontheinterrogativepronounwecanhearthestressonthewordswhenwesaythe
sentencesaloud.

ReportedQuestions
Interrogativepronounsalsoappearinthemiddleofreportedquestions.Reportedquestionsareactuallyaformof

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declarativesentencesusingreportedspeech(alsocalledindirectspeech):theytellusaboutsomethingsomeone
elseasked,butdonotaskaquestionthemselves.Assuch,theydonotendinaquestionmark.Forexample:
Shewantstoknowwhosetheseare.
Hewonderedwhichiscorrect.
Iaskedyouwhatweweresupposedtodotoday.
Shewaswonderingwhowouldbecomingtomorrow.
Theyaskedwhomtoconsultinthematter.

Thespeakerineachoftheexamplesisntaskinganactualquestion,butratherisreportingorclarifyingaquestion
thathasalreadybeenasked.

Otherinterrogativepronouns
Therearetechnicallysevenotherinterrogativepronounswhoever,whomever,whichever,whatever,whatsoever,
whosoever,andwhomsoeverthatareusedforemphaticpurposes,buttheyaretypicallyusedinmoreformalor
oldfashionedEnglish.Forexample:
Whoeverwouldbelievesuchastory?
WhatevercouldIhavedonetomakeyousoangry?
Whomeverdidyouasktoaccompanyyoutothegalaonsuchshortnotice?
Whicheverwillthegentlemanchoose,Iwonder?

Thelastthree,whatsoever,whosoever,andwhomsoever,aresynonymouswithwhatever,whoever,andwhomever.
However,theyareconsideredevenmoreantiquatedinmodernEnglish,borderingonarchaic.Itisuncommonto
comeacrossthemeveninmoreformalspeechorwriting.

Othergrammaticalroles
Manyoftheinterrogativepronounsweveexaminedaboveoftenserveothergrammaticalfunctionsindifferent
contexts.Itsimportanttoknowthedifferencebetweenthem.

InterrogativeAdjectives
Threeoftheinterrogativepronounswhose,which,andwhatcanalsofunctionasinterrogativeadjectives,
meaningtheycomebeforeandmodifyanothernoun.Aneasywaytobesurewhetheryouaredealingwithan
interrogativeadjectiveoraninterrogativepronounistocheckwhetherthequestionwordisimmediatelyfollowedby
anounthatitmodifies.Forexample:
Whatbookisyourfavorite?
Inthisexample,whatisimmediatelyfollowedbythenounbook,whichitismodifying.Wecanbesurethat,inthis
case,whatisapossessiveadjective.

Whatareyoureading?
Inthissentence,whatisnotimmediatelyfollowedbyanounthatitmodifies,whichmeansthatitisaninterrogative
pronoun.

Herearesomeotherexamples:
WhichshirtshouldIwear?(interrogativeadjective)
Whichwouldyouchooseifyouwereme?(interrogativepronoun)

Whosebookisthisonthetable?(interrogativeadjective)
WhoseisthisthatImholding?(interrogativepronoun)

RelativePronouns
Who,whom,which,andwhosecanalsobeusedasrelativepronounsindeclarativesentences.Theyarenot
consideredinterrogativeinthisform,becausetheyarenolongerassociatedwithaquestionrather,theyareusedto
helpclarifywhomorwhatasentenceistalkingabout,orelsegiveextrainformationaboutit.Forexample:
Ihelpedtheoldmanwholivesdowntheroadwithhisgroceries.
Thecomputer,whichbelongedtomybrother,isveryslow.
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Couldthepersonwhosecarisparkedoutsidepleasemoveit?
Amanwho/whomIhadnevermetbeforegreetedmeinthestreet.

Inaddition,thepronounswhoever,whichever,andwhateverarealsousedasindefiniterelativepronouns.They
aremuchmorecommonlyusedinthiswayinmodernEnglishthantheyareasinterrogativepronouns.Forexample:
DowhateveryoupleaseIdontcare.
Whoeverdecidestojoinusismorethanwelcome.
Takewhicheverrouteisfastest.

Whomevercanalsobeusedinthiswaywhenthepronounfunctionsasanobject,asin:
Bewithwhomevermakesyouhappy.
However,thisisbecomingincreasinglyuncommon,withwhoevermoreoftenbeingusedinstead.

Quiz

1.Whichofthefollowingisafunctionofinterrogativepronouns?

a)Tohelpclarifywhoorwhatasentenceistalkingabout
b)Toaskorreportaquestion
c)Tomodifyanounthatisbeingaskedabout
d)Toprovideadditionalinformationtoasentence

2.Whichofthefollowingisnotoneoftheprimaryinterrogativepronouns?

a)which
b)who
c)whose
d)whatever

3.Identifytheinterrogativepronounthatcompletesthefollowingsentencecorrectly:
______shallIasktocometodinnertonight?

a)who
b)which
c)whom
d)A&B
e)B&C
f)A&C
g)Alloftheabove

4.Whichofthefollowinginterrogativepronounsisusedforemphasis?

a)whichever
b)which
c)whose
d)whom

Submit

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