Interrogative Pronouns

What are Interrogative Pronouns?

Interrogative pronouns are pronouns we use to replace nouns in questions. There are five basic interrogative pronouns and these are:

  • Who
  • Whom
  • Whose
  • What
  • Which

Each of these pronouns substitutes a noun or an antecedent, which we can identify once the question is answered. For example, with the question “What did you buy?” The pronoun “what” could be a shirt, some food, new shoes, and so on.

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Who did you choose for club president? – The majority voted for Rahel.
  • Whom shall we put as a reference? – Young Hwan would be good.
  • Whose jewelry are these? – They belong to Kochamma.
  • What are you waiting for? – The sun to come out, I guess.
  • Which one did Avira need? – I think it was the yellow car.

In some instances, you’ll encounter interrogative pronoun forms that use the suffix –ever and the rarely seen –soever. These are whoever, whosoever, whomever, whomsoever, whosever, whatever, whatsoever, and whichever.

Interrogative Pronouns Rules

Subject Interrogative PronounsThe interrogative pronouns who, what, and which replace the nouns doing the action or the nouns being referred to by the verbs. For example:

Who painted the wall? – Larry did.
What is your favorite cake? – I love chocolate cake.
Which is better? – The silver ring.
Object Interrogative PronounsWhat and which can also fill the roles of object pronouns (could be direct objects or indirect objects, which replace the nouns receiving the action or things. Whom is the third object interrogative pronoun. For example:

What did you get? – I bought ice cream.
Which does Jonas like? – The dinosaur set.
To whom did you speak to? – We spoke to Gina.
Possessive Interrogative PronounsPossessive nouns are replaced by the possessive interrogative pronoun whose. These questions answer someone who owns something. For example:

Whose are these? – They’re Mary’s.
Whose is it? – It’s Roland’s.
Whose are you bidding? – I’m bidding on Gillie’s.  
Table of Rules for Interrogative Pronouns
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Examples of Interrogative Pronouns

1. Who (used for people only)

  • Who will discuss the abstract concepts of the book?
  • Who left the windows open in the barn?
  • Who do you think will get the promotion?
  • Who is that I hear singing at the front door?
  • Who was in charge of the phone lines yesterday?

2. Which (used for both people and things)

  • Which is your daughter?
  • Which is your house?
  • Which of the members can speak Italian?
  • Which was she referring to?
  • Which do you think has a more suitable color?

3. What (used only for things)

  • What do you want for Christmas?
  • What does she mean by “gaslighting?”
  • What’s the reason behind the “restricted range” sign?
  • What did your parents pay for the car?
  • What happened to Jonah’s kids at the lake?
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Interrogative Pronouns Exercises with Answers

Exercise on Interrogative Pronouns

Identify if the word in bold in each of the following sentences is an interrogative pronoun or not.

1. Bob, who is my boss, always speaks calmly and is never without patience.

2. Tamara looked at me and asked, “Where did Robin go?”

3. “Who is the star of the show?” I asked.

4. “That’s awesome!” Rocky exclaimed. “What was her prize?”

5. “Sure, I think Dionne and I can make it.” Peyton said. “When is it?”

6. “Which do you like?” he asked, indicating the selection of rings.

7. “What music does the band play?” asked Josie. “Maybe we can hire them.”

8. Hannah gasped. “Who told you to clean this with water?”

9. It depends on who is going to be there,” said Ezra.

10. “Really?” Gabe was pleased. “Which of them said that about my work?”


1. who: not an interrogative pronoun

2. where: not an interrogative pronoun

3. who: interrogative pronoun

4. what: interrogative pronoun

5. when: not an interrogative pronoun

6. which: interrogative pronoun

7. what: not an interrogative pronoun

8. who: interrogative pronoun

9. who: not an interrogative pronoun

10. which: interrogative pronoun

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Interrogative Pronouns List

There are only a few interrogative pronouns, so the list below shouldn’t be difficult to memorize:

Interrogative Pronouns
Interrogative Prounouns Table

Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

Learning about interrogative pronouns is quite straightforward. As long as you remember the rules and how they’re properly used in sentences (questions, to be exact), there’s not a lot of coverage to be extremely, anxious about, unlike other parts of speech like nouns, adjectives, and verbs. However, you might consider the following pieces of advice that could be helpful to mastering grammatically correct communication, and this list is applicable to all grammar concepts, not just interrogative pronouns.

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand interrogative pronouns and relative pronouns.

Use Grammar ListsLearning tools such as lists, tables, charts, and diagrams can function well as grammar guides. They’re not replacements for books, but they can provide simplified versions of English grammar essentials that are handy for cross-checking and reviewing. The best way to utilize this method is to create your own lists, which by default are customized to your learning pace and preferences.
Use Audio-Visual ResourcesIndependent learning is inevitable in studying languages. You can’t depend solely on traditional English classes because the hours spent in classrooms are quite minimal. To maximize the benefits of self-studying, you must use the right tools. Incorporating English language media into your regimen is one example. You will acquire exposure to how English speakers (native or otherwise) use the language in various contexts: social, academic, professional, and so on. This will help significantly in vocabulary acquisition and sentence construction, granted that you consume media with the intention to pick up language elements from what you are watching or listening to.
Practical UseYour teachers can’t speak English for you. Neither can books. But the way to achieve fluency in speaking is to use the language as often as possible. You could accomplish advanced grammar skills but still have difficulty talking at length. Sure, most English language learners live in areas where English isn’t widely spoken, and you could be one of them, but there’s always a way to create your own English environment. Organize study groups with fellow students and cultivate friendships with both native and non-native speakers. Daily English interactions can greatly improve your proficiency in a way that books can’t.
Table of Advice for Interrogative Pronouns
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Common Errors Made by English Learners

Going into detail about the usual mistakes that English learners make with interrogative pronouns is entering a more advanced grammatical territory. The mistakes are technical and not that relevant to speaking. When you calculate numbers in real-life situations such as buying things at the market or splitting a restaurant bill, you don’t talk about formulas and defend them. Much is the same with grammar. However, the following rules are important to learn to prepare for tests or writing academic essays. You will soon see how small changes in syntax can make a word function as a different part of speech. Here are some things to remember to avoid misidentifying interrogative pronouns in sentences.

Interrogative pronouns vs Interrogative Adjectives or Interrogative DeterminersRemember that pronouns are words that replace nouns, not describe them. When “which”, “what”, and “whose” are followed by the nouns they modify, they stop being interrogative pronouns and are considered interrogative adjectives/determiners.

As interrogative pronouns (there are no nouns after them because they have replaced the nouns):

Which is yours?
What fits this box?
Whose are these?

As interrogative adjectives/interrogative determiners

Which house is yours?
What toy fits this box?
Whose documents are these?
“Who” & “Whom”Another common cause for confusion, but the difference between them isn’t that hard to figure out:

Who – replaces the subject of sentences or the verb
Whom – replaces the object of the verb or the object of the preposition.

Subjects and objects are typically identified through their placement in sentences, but this isn’t always so. Exercise the same caution with interrogative pronouns.

Let’s take a look at the following sentences:

Who has his number? (“who” is the subject of has)
Whom will you meet? (“you,” not whom, is the subject of meet)
“What is he?” & “Who is he?”The question “What is he/she?” inquires about someone’s profession. Meanwhile, “Who is he” inquires about someone’s name. For example:

– “What is he?” – “He’s a pianist.”
– “Who is he? – “His name is Max.”
– “What is she?” – “She’s an Olympic runner.”
– “Who is she?” – She’s Lily.”
Interrogative Pronouns Common Errors Table
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Learning Strategies and Best Practices with Interrogative Pronouns

To strengthen your knowledge about interrogative pronouns further, here are some learning strategies or tips to study and remember:

5 W’s & H QuestionsAs previously mentioned, who = subject, and whom = object. It looks simple, but its actual usage is still a source of much confusion.

Think of subjective personal pronouns: I, he, she, we, and they.
Think of objective personal pronouns: me, him, her, us, and them.

Check your questions. If you can replace your answer with a subjective pronoun, then you need “who.” Likewise, if you replace your answer with an objective pronoun, you need “whom.”


Who fought him? – Jack did. (or He did, not Him did)
Whom did Hayden fight? – Hayden fought Jack. (Hayden fought him, not Hayden fought he)
Who/Whom; Subject/ObjectAs previously mentioned, who = subject, and whom = object. It looks simple, but its actual usage is still a source of much confusion.

Think of subjective personal pronouns: I, he, she, we, and they.
Think of objective personal pronouns: me, him, her, us, them.

Check your questions. If you can replace your answer with a subjective pronoun, then you need “who.” Likewise, if you replace your answer with an objective pronoun, you need “whom.”


Who fought him? – Jack did. (or He did, not Him did)
Whom did Hayden fight? – Hayden fought Jack. (Hayden fought him, not Hayden fought he)
Words of noteRemember these word types:

– interrogative pronouns
– interrogative adjectives/interrogative determiners
– interrogative adverbs
– relative pronouns

These different functions of parts of speech are often mentioned together when being studied.
Table of Learning Strategies for Interrogative Pronouns
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Interrogative Pronouns Frequently Asked Questions

In interrogative sentences, whose is an interrogative pronoun that replaces a possessive noun. For example: “Whose are these?” – They’re Stella’s. It can also be an interrogative adjective modifying a noun. For example: “Whose glasses are these?” On the other hand, “who’s” is the contraction of who is.

These are both technically correct. While there are 5 basic interrogative pronouns, namely who, whom, whose, which, and what, some books only count the main forms – who, which, what; they consider who as the basic form, and whom and whose as conjugations in its objective and possessive forms, respectively.

Basically take all the interrogative nouns and put them in affirmative or negative sentences or sentences that don’t end with a question mark. On a more serious note, relative pronouns function as conjunctions that show the relationship between the modifier of the clause to the antecedent of the pronouns. For example, “The woman whose skirt is red came to our house last night.”

Interrogative sentences are obvious questions, which are either looking for information or confirmation. For example, “Is she back from her trip?”, “Where did she travel to?”, “Whose car was that?”, “Who is your favorite singer?”, and so on.

However, since we’re on the topic of interrogative pronouns, let’s reiterate that these are pronouns used to ask questions and replace nouns in either the subjective or objective function. Second, interrogative adjectives modify nouns and don’t replace them like pronouns. Third, interrogative adverbs answer the questions of when, where, how, and why. 

Here are some examples:

1. interrogative pronouns: What would you like to eat?
2. Interrogative adjective: Whatfood would you like to eat?
3. Interrogative adverb: Where would you like to eat?

The types of pronouns vary in number depending on the book. But here they are in a nutshell:

1. Relative Pronouns
2. Possessive Pronouns
3. Reflexive Pronouns
4. Demonstrative Pronouns
5. Interrogative Pronouns
6. Indefinite Pronouns
7. Personal Pronouns
8. Subject Pronouns
9. Object Pronouns

Note that some books consider Reciprocal and Intensive Pronouns as their own types, while others list them down as sub-types.

For more comprehensive content regarding each type of pronoun, do check out’s Grammar Page for dedicated articles on all grammar topics. 

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