Wh Questions

What are the 7 WH question words? (+ how)

In this post, I am going to help you ask questions in English.

In my experience, students often need help asking questions and Wh questions are a great way to have an amazing conversation.

You are going to learn about difficulties students have with questions but first let’s look at the 7 most used Wh questions and How with lots of examples.

Question word Meaning Examples

What

Used to ask for information

What is the capital of Turkey?

What dress are you wearing tonight?

Where

Used to ask for location

Where are we going?

Where is the school?

Who

Used to ask the person who did the action

Who is the President of Brazil?

Who wrote the first sentence?

When

Used to ask the time of an event/action

When is the next World Cup?

When is your birthday?

Why

Used to ask for a reason/cause

Why were you late?

Why did you break the glass?

Which

Used when there is a choice

Which pen is blue?

Which ingredients do you need to make an apple pie?

Whose

Used to show possession

Whose car is the Ferrari?

Whose keys are these?

How

Used to explain a process

How do you learn English?

How did you learn how to play guitar?

2 types of questions in English

There are two main types of questions in English. Closed questions and Open Questions. 

The answer to closed questions is Yes or No. 

Do you like Football?

No.

Do you eat Pizza?

Yes.

The answer to open questions varies depending on the other person. We use these question words from the table above. 

Where do you play tennis?

I play tennis at the gym.

You can see that it is not possible to answer this question with yes or no.

What are the different Wh questions + How?

What

What is used to ask for more information about people or things. When you don’t know something you can use What.

What is in that cake?

What is she doing 

What do you do?

We also use what when we are surprised. We often just shout What…??

We use What…for to ask for the reason similar to Why.

What did you do that for?

What is that tool for?

Where

We use Where to show the location or place. 

Where is my car?

Where are you now?

Where are you going?

We also use Where to ask at what stage of a process/situation you are at.

Where are you on the Jefferson report?

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Who

We use Who to discover the subject of the action. For example. Peter joined the football team. But…. If we don’t know that Peter joined then we ask the question Who joined the football team? (See below for why we don’t use “did” in this sentence)

Who scored the winning goal in the World Cup final?

Who is the best singer at the moment?

Who painted your house?

When

We use When to describe the time of a situation or event.

When did you buy your guitar?

When did Peter and Jane start dating?

When did you watch Batman?

Why 

We use Why to discover the reason for something.

Why did you quit running?

Why did you buy that phone?

Why do we need curtains?

Which

We use Which when there is a choice to make

Which football team do you support?

Which do you prefer? tea or coffee?

Which musical instrument do you want to play? 

Whose

We use whose to ask who owns something.

Whose bag is this?

Whose sunglasses are these?

Whose bike is this?

How

We use How to describe the process so another person can understand.

How do you tie a shoelace?

How did he do that?

How do you download a video from Youtube?

Difference between what and which

Which is for a limited set of possibilities. What can mean that the choices are unlimited 

what which difference

Examples:

Which English exam are you going to take?

(There are a limited number of English exams, Cambridge, IELTS, etc)

What is your favourite song? 

(There are unlimited songs in the world)

In the real world, native English speakers could use what in the first example. People always use which when there are only 2 or 3 options. 

Which is better? McDonald’s or Burger King?

Wh Questions with answers (+short answers)

We often use the same verb in the question and in the answer.

Which type of coffee do you drink?

I drink Cappuccino.

You need to include the object(Cappuccino) in your answer.

Using Auxiliary in Questions

Auxiliary verb just means that you have a helping verb to show that a sentence is in the past or a question. In the present simple, we use Do/Does to show that the sentence is a question.

Do you like apples?

Does John work for Microsoft?

The WH Question words come before the auxiliary.

Which fruit do you like?

Where do you work?

Sometimes we don’t need the Auxiliary!

In some situations, we don’t need an auxiliary.

Look at the example above “Do you like apples? In this example “you” is the subject of the sentence. The person that does the action. 

When we don’t know the subject,  we don’t use the auxiliary. This is often with the question word “Who” 

Who won the match? Not  Who did won the match?

Who drank my beer? Not   Who did drink my beer?

Negative Questions in English

Negative questions are not that common in English like in other languages like Portuguese. 

The most common WH negative question is with the word “Why

Examples:

Why don’t we try the new fish restaurant tonight?

Why weren’t you at work yesterday?

Changing word order when the Wh Question is not at the beginning of the sentence

This can be difficult for many students. 

When the question is part of a longer sentence the word order changes.

Examples

Where is John?

Could you tell me where John is?

Where were you last night?

Can you tell me where you were last night? 

Notice what happens with Do/Does/Did

What time does the game start?   Do you know what time the game starts?

Where does she live?                    Can you tell me where she lives?

Whom?

Whom is not common in conversations so it is not important for students to learn. Please do not try to use it when you are speaking. It is only for formal writing. If you want to learn more read this post.  .https://www.grammarly.com/blog/who-vs-whom-its-not-as-complicated-as-you-might-think/

Exercises on Wh Questions

You can find exercises on Wh Questions here:

http://www.learnenglish-online.com/grammar/tests/whquestions.html

https://www.myenglishpages.com/site_php_files/grammar-exercise-wh-questions.php 

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below.

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