We use interrogative pronouns to ask questions. The interrogative pronoun represents the thing that we don’t know (what we are asking the question about).
There are four main interrogative pronouns: who, whom, what, which
Notice that the possessive pronoun whose can also be an interrogative pronoun (an interrogative possessive pronoun).
Notice that whom is the correct form when the pronoun is the object of the verb, as in “Whom did you see?” (“I saw John.”) However, in normal, spoken English we rarely use whom. Most native speakers would say (or even write): “Who did you see?”
Look at these example questions. In the sample answers, the noun phrase that the interrogative pronoun represents is shown in bold.
|Who told you?||John told me.||subject|
|Whom did you tell?||I told Mary.||object|
|What‘s happened?||An accident‘s happened.||subject|
|What do you want?||I want coffee.||object|
|Which came first?||The Porsche 911 came first.||subject|
|Which will the doctor see first?||The doctor will see the patient in blue first.||object|
|There’s one car missing. Whose hasn’t arrived?||John’s (car) hasn’t arrived.||subject|
|We’ve found everyone’s keys. Whose did you find?||I found John’s (keys).||object|
Note that we sometimes use the suffix “-ever” to make compounds from some of these pronouns (mainly whoever, whatever, whichever). When we add “-ever”, we use it for emphasis, often to show confusion or surprise. Look at these examples:
- Whoever would want to do such a nasty thing?
- Whatever did he say to make her cry like that?
- They’re all fantastic! Whichever will you choose?