Identifying an interrogative pronoun is an easy task. Interrogative pronouns can act as relative pronouns in direct or indirect questions. All interrogative pronouns inquire about someone or something. They operate only in questions. Each interrogative pronoun either references a person or an object.
What are Interrogative Pronouns?
Five interrogative pronouns exist in the English language. Whose, who, whom, what, and which fall into the category of interrogative pronouns. Additionally, people call this group of pronouns wh-words. When found in questions these words are referred to as wh questions.
These five pronouns help form direct and indirect questions. Direct questions begin with wh-words and end with question marks. In contrast, we find indirect questions in statements. The word order changes to reflect the wh-words inclusion in a statement. Indirect questions usually end with a period rather than a question mark.
Interrogative pronouns can adopt the suffixes ever and soever. Listed below are examples of interrogative pronouns with suffixes.
- whatever or whatsoever
- whoever or whosoever
- whichever or whichsoever
- whomsoever or whomever
- whosesoever or whosever
Interrogative Pronouns Examples
Whose can suggest a person or an object, but it always indicates possession. In other words, whose infers belonging or ownership of something or someone. Besides, we can use whose as a pronoun or a noun head.
- Whose is this? (pronoun)
- Whose kids are those in the tree? (noun head)
- I wonder whose bike is in our garage. (noun head)
- Whose headphones are those? (noun head)
What is a versatile interrogative pronoun. It can refer either to a person or an object. Also, it can head a noun or act as a pronoun. We use what when asking a question that has a large spectrum of possible answers.
- What do you want to eat? (pronoun)
- I wonder what he was saying. (noun head)
- What is your favorite color? (pronoun)
- What time does the wedding start? (noun head)
The interrogative pronoun which can reference an object or person. It can function alone or operate as a noun head. We use this wh-word to ask for specific information when a limited range of options exist.
- Which catalog do you want to peruse? (noun head)
- Which of these men work at the dealership? (pronoun)
- They asked which road to take. (noun head)
- Which flavor would you like? (noun head)
Who references human beings. It works exclusively as a pronoun.
- Who is visiting tomorrow?
- Who stole the bike?
- I’m wondering who will be at the park this time.
- Who is going to wash the dishes?
Whom functions as an interrogative pronoun. It references people. This pronoun appears less often than the other interrogative pronouns found in the English language. This is because it is only used in formal writing. That is to say, it is not used in speech.
Whom becomes even more formal when a preposition occurs before it. For example, to whom did you visit appears more formal than whom did you visit.
- Whom did you talk to?
- Whom did you cast your ballot for?
- You need to ask whom to speak to.
- Whom do eat lunch with?
Interrogative Pronoun | Infographic