What Is an Interrogative Pronoun?
An interrogative pronoun is a pronoun which is used to make asking questions easy. There are just five interrogative pronouns. Each one is used to ask a very specific question or indirect question. Some, such as “who” and “whom,” refer only to people. Others can be used to refer to objects or people. Once you are familiar with interrogative pronouns, you’ll find that it’s very easy to use them in a variety of situations.
Interrogative pronouns can also be used as relative pronouns, which may be found in questions or indirect questions. You’ll know for certain that a pronoun is classified as an interrogative when it’s used in an inquiring way, because interrogative pronouns are found only in question and indirect questions.
The five interrogative pronouns are what, which, who, whom, and whose.
- What – Used to ask questions about people or objects. Examples:
- What do you want for dinner?
- I wonder what we’re doing tomorrow.
- What is your friend’s name?
- What time are we supposed to be there?
- Which – Used to ask questions about people or objects. Examples:
- Which color do you prefer?
- Which of these ladies is your mother?
- She asked which train to take.
- Which seat would you like?
- Who – Used to ask questions about people. Examples:
- Who is that?
- Who was driving the car?
- I’m wondering who will be at the party.
- Who is going to take out the trash?
- Whom – This interrogative pronoun is rarely seen these days, but when it shows up, it is used to ask questions about people. Examples:
- Whom did you speak to?
- Whom do you prefer to vote for?
- You should ask whom to call.
- Whom do you live with?
- Whose – Used to ask questions about people or objects, always related to possession. Examples:
- Whose sweater is this?
- Whose parents are those?
- I wonder whose dog knocked our garbage can over.
- Whose phone is that?
In some cases, interrogative pronouns take on the suffix ever. A few can also take on the old-fashioned suffix soever, which is rarely seen in writing these days. For example:
Interrogative pronouns are very easy to remember and use. Memorize them to make things even simpler.
Examples of Interrogative Pronouns
Sentences containing interrogative pronouns are always questions, so they always end with a question mark. In the following examples, interrogative pronouns have been italicized for ease of identification.
- What do you want for your birthday?
- Which shirt do you think looks better on me?
- Who do you think will win the playoff game?
- To whom are you speaking?
- Whose socks are those?
Interrogative Pronouns Exercises
Fill in the blanks with an interrogative pronoun.
- __________ threw the football?
- ____________ would you prefer, coffee or tea?
- ______________ time do we need to be at the airport?
- _____________ car is that?
- ____________ is your sister’s name?
- _____________ did you tell?
- _____________ of these books have you read?
- ______________ wants ice cream?
- A – Who threw the football?
- C Which would you prefer, coffee or tea?
- B – What time do we need to be at the airport?
- B – Whose car is that?
- C – What is your sister’s name?
- A – Whom did you tell?
- D – Which of these books have you read?
- C – Who wants ice cream?
<< Back to Pronouns
Topic: Interrogative Sentences Definition, examples, sentence structure, and usage
If you listen to an every day conversation, you’ll notice the exchange isn’t simply statements of facts or ideas. Of course, these types of statements (called declarative sentences) are part of the dialogue, but unless the conversation is entirely one-way, chances are you’ll also hear requests or commands (imperative sentences), exclamations (exclamatory sentences) or questions (interrogative sentences). That’s how normal dialogue occurs and in order for your writing to be engaging and interesting, you need to do what comes naturally in every day language.
Sentences that ask a question are called interrogative sentences. They’re easy to spot -they always end with a question mark (?). But it’s not quite as simple as that. All interrogative sentences are not the same.
There are 4 types of Interrogative sentences.
- Yes/No interrogatives
- Alternative interrogatives.
- Tag questions.
Yes/no interrogatives are questions that can be answered with a yes or a no response. You probably ask or are asked these questions every day.
Here are some examples of yes/no interrogative sentences:
- Mister, can you spare a dime?
- Did you take your vitamin this morning?
- Do you have your homework ready?
- Are you ready to go?
- Did you go to the game Friday night?
For each of the above questions, the answer will be either a yes or no answer.
Alternative interrogatives are questions that provide for two or more alternative answers. In other words, you’re providing a choice.
Examples of alternative interrogative sentences:
- Would you prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream?
- Should I call or email you?
- Do you want coffee, tea, or soda?
Wh-interrogatives sentences begin with a wh-word and call for an open-ended answer. A yes or no answer isn’t appropriate for these questions, nor does the question provide alternative answers. The answer can be a simple response or complex explanation.
Examples of wh-interrogative sentences:
- What are you doing?
- Where do you live?
- Who is playing in the Super Bowl?
- What is the meaning of this?
- Which songs do you like best?
Tag questions are questions attached or tagged onto the ending of a declarative statement. They transform a declarative sentence into an interrogative sentence.
- You live in the city, don’t you?
- We need to get going now, don’t we?
- There’s a game on today, isn’t there?
- You’re coming to the party, aren’t you?
Sometimes interrogative sentences are actually declarative sentences that have a question mark at the end. If you ask this type of question, the last syllable of the final word in the sentence is spoken with a rising intonation. Here are a few examples.
- The bus has already left?
- The Saints won the Super Bowl?
- It’s snowing in Florida?
- You’ve lost 15 pounds already?
- The Subject of Interrogative Sentences
The subject of interrogative sentences may not be obvious. Typically, you can spot them right after the verb. But there’s a way to make the subject easier to spot. Simply rewrite the question into a statement and then the subject is then easy to find.
Here are some examples below. First you’ll find an interrogative sentence. Immediately following is the declarative form of the sentence with the subject underlined.
- Did you clean up your room? You cleaned up your room.
- Has Jack come to visit? Jack has come to visit.
- Is this Jill’s wallet? This is Jill’s wallet.
Interrogative sentences are the most simple to identify. They always ask a question or request information. Simply look for the question mark at the end and you’ll have no problem finding or understanding the function of interrogative sentences.