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24 Question Words With Meanings and Examples

Question Words

In this lesson you will learn some useful words to ask questions. When you have finished reading, you will be able to easily ask questions and gather specific information.

What are the question words?


An interrogative word, question word or wh-question words is a function word used to ask a question, such as what, which, when, where, who, whom, whose, why, whether and how. We often refer to these words as "wh-question words" because they include the letters WH.

They may be used in both direct questions (Where is he going?) and in indirect questions (I wonder where he is going).

In English and various other languages the same forms are also used as relative pronouns in certain relative clauses (The country where he was born) and certain adverb clauses (I go where he goes).

It can also be used as a modal, since question words are more likely to appear in modal sentences, like (Why was he walking?)

24 Question words in English


Interrogative words, question word or wh-question words, if it is intended to give a specific question, it must begin with one of the following question tools:

1. What

A: Used to ask for information about people or things:

  • What time is it?
  • What do you feel?
  • What do you think?  

B: Used in questions that show you are surprised or do not believe something:

  • "I just told Peter." "What?/You did what?"
  • What's this I hear? You're leaving?

2. What …. for: Asking for a reason, asking why:

  • What do you use this for?
  • What did you do that for?
  • What are you emptying that cupboard for

3. What kind: To ask for description:

  • What kind of car do you drive?
  • What kind of music do you like? I like quiet songs

4. What time: To ask for time:

  • What time did you come home?
  • What time is the next bus to Narita?

5. Where: To, at, or in what place:

  • Where does he live?
  • Where are we going?

6. When: At what time; at the time at which:

  • When are you going?
  • When's the baby due?
  • We'll go when you're ready.

7. Which: (used in questions and structures in which there is a fixed or limited set of answers or possibilities) what one or ones:

  • Which party would you prefer to go to - Anna's or Dan's ?
  • Which doctor did you see - Seward?
  • Which time suits you better - 12.30 or one o'clock?

8. Whose: Used especially in questions when asking about which person owns or is responsible for something:

  • Whose is this bag?
  • Whose bag is this?
  • Whose is this book? It's Alan's.

9. Whom: Used instead of "who" as the object of a verb or preposition:

  • I met a man with whom I used to work.
  • He took out a photo of his son, whom he adores.
  • There were 500 passengers, of whom 121 drowned.

10. Who: Used especially in questions as the subject or object of a verb, when asking which person or people, or when asking what someone's name is: 

  • Who is she?
  • Who did it?
  • Who is the richest person in the world?

11. Why: For what reason: 

  • Why does she look so sad?
  • Why did you behave so badly?
  • Why are you running?

12. Why not: Used to make a suggestion or to express agreement:

  • Why not use my car?
  • If you’re so unhappy, why not leave?
  • Why not you book?

13. Why don't: Used to make a suggestion:

  • Why don't you come with us?
  • Why don't I help you?
  • Why don't you drive over this morning?

14. How

A: In what way, or by what methods:

  • How do we get to the town from here?
  • How did you hear about the concert?

 B: Used to ask about someone's physical or emotional state:

  • How is your mother?
  • How are you feeling this morning? 

C: Used in questions that ask what an experience or event was like:

  • Do you know how many (= what number of) people are coming?
  • How much does this cost (= what is its price)? 

D: Used for emphasis:

  • I can't tell you how pleased I am (= I am very pleased) that you came.
  • How (= it is very) nice to see you!

15. How about: Used to make a suggestion:

  • How about the cinema tonight?
  • How about going to the cinema?
  • How about those Teams?

16. How come: Used to ask about the reason for something:

  • How come you didn't call me?
  • How come you missed the train?
  • How come you got an invitation and not me?

17. How far: Used to refers to distance:

  • How far is it to the nearest town?
  • How far is it from the earth to the moon?
  • How far is it from here?

18. How high: It is used to refers to height:

  • How high is that mountain?
  • How high can you jump?
  • How high are you?

19. How often: It is used to refers to frequency:

  • How often should I take this medicine?
  • How often do the trains come?
  • How often do lions breed? 

20. How long: It is used to refers to length (time or space):

  • How long is the home?
  • How long was the movie?
  • How long does it take?

21. How tall: It is used to refers to length of the height:

  • How tall are you?
  • How tall is that building?
  • How tall is he?

22. How old: It is used to refers to age:

  • How old are you?
  • How old is this computer?
  • How old is the earth?

23. How many: It is used to refers to talk about quantity in countable nouns:

  • How many knives are in that knife block?
  • How many do you want?
  • How many weeks in a year?

24. How much: It is used to refers to talk about quantity in uncountable nouns:

  • How much lettuce do we need to get?
  • How much sugar is there in the cup?
  • How much protein in chicken?

Add ever to questions words


A question word or interrogative pronoun is a functional word used to ask a question, such as what, which, when, where, who, whom, whose, why, whether and how.

They are sometimes called "wh-words", because most of them in English begin with "wh" and can be used both in direct questions (Where is he going?) and in indirect questions (I wonder where he is going).

If we add ever to words such as how, what, which, when, where, who changes their meaning as follows:

1. However: In any way at all or no matter how.

  • However you try to explain it, I still can’t understand it.

2. Whatever: Anything at all or no matter what.

  • Please take whatever you want from the fridge if you feel hungry.

3. Whichever: Anyone at all or no matter what.

  • Choose whichever time suits you then tell me.

4. Whenever: Anytime at all or no matter when.

  • Call in whenever you like. I’m always at home.

5. Wherever: Any place at all or the location does not matter.

  • Wherever you live, you have the right to a good postal service.

6. Whoever: Anyone at all or no matter who.

  • Whoever you ask, you will get the same answer: no

7. Forever: For the future or forever.

  • I will learn English forever.

See: Question Tag in the English Language

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