54 Wh- Questions

Syntax

Wh- Questions always begin with one of the Wh- Question words (Interrogative pronouns), which show what kind of information is wanted.

It is very important to place an auxiliary or a modal verb after a Wh- Question and before a subject.

The Wh- Questions have this structure:
Wh- question word + auxiliary/modal verb + subject + verb + …?

  1. When does she read a magazine?
  2. Where did you live 10 years ago?
  3. Why have you got 5 cars?
  4. Which house is yours?
  5. What can I do now?
  6. Whose computer is this?
  7. Who ate all the chocolate?
  8. Whom did he call?
  9. How old are you?

The Wh- Words used to ask questions are:

  1. When (to ask for information about time);
  2. Where (to ask for information about place);
  3. Why (to ask for a reason);
  4. Which (to ask for information about a preference between two or more things);
  5. What (to ask for information about something);
  6. Whose (to ask for information about who something belongs to);
  7. Who (to ask for information about people, as a subject);
  8. Whom (to ask for information about people, as an object);
  9. How* (to ask for information about the way something is done, the way something happens).

These questions are also called Open Questions because the possible answers to them are infinite.

*How do not start with Wh-, but it is also considered to be a Wh- question.

NOTE: There are two main types of questions: Yes/No Questions and Wh- Questions. Yes/No Questions are Closed Questions because they can only be answered with Yes or No.

We tend to use Wh- Questions.

These are questions which always begin with one of the wh- question words, which show what kind of information is wanted:

  • When (to ask about time);
  • Where (to ask about place);
  • Why (to ask for a reason);
  • Which (to ask about a preference between two or more things);
  • What (to ask about something);
  • Whose (to ask about who something belongs to);
  • Who (to ask about people, as a subject);
  • Whom (to ask about people, as an object);
  • How (to ask about the way something is done, the way something happens).

To form a wh-question, we have to follow this structure:
Wh- question word + auxiliary/modal verb + subject + verb + …?

For example:
— “Where is the toilet?” = The question word “where” suggests that the speaker needs to know the position of something.

NOTE: An auxiliary (be/have…) or a modal verb (can/could/would…) must be placed after a wh- question and before a subject.

Let’s revise this content within the [Form] section. Take a look at the [Example] section that shows its use within a context.