Question Words in English (With Exercises and Free Resources)

The Question Words of English

How many questions do you ask in a day? One study says that a child asks 73 questions a day on average. Most of these questions will rely on a question word. For this reason, question words in English are super important for our everyday speech. So the question is, are you using them right?

In this article, we will go over the most important question words and how they are used. We will follow this up with some exercises to test how much you understand these question words (or interrogative words). By the end of this post, you’ll be a question master (or at least be on your way). Let’s get started.

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The 9 Main Questions Words in English

There are nine main question words in English that you should know. In this section, we are going to go over their uses, as well as take a look at some examples of their use.

We have two free downloads to help you study. The first is a PDF copy of our explanations and examples. The second is a copy of our Question Word Explainer.

who/whom: Used when asking about a person. 

Who is used as a subject. 
Whom is used as an object of a verb or a preposition.
Whom is archaic and rarely used.

Who teaches this class?
To whom are you speaking?

whose: Used when asking about who owns something.

Whose shoes are these?

When: Used when asking about time.

When will you go to New York.

Why: Used when asking for a reason or explanation.

Why did he leave?

Where: Used when asking about a place.

Where does he live?

How: Used when asking for instruction, quality, or extent.

How do you play?
How are you?
How smart is he?

What/Which: What is used when asking for information or confirmation.
Which is used when asking about a choice.

What kinds of meat do you like?
Which meat do you want? Chicken or beef?

Who

Who is used to ask questions about people.

Who is she?
Who do you work for?
Who helped you with that?

Whom

Whom is also used for questions about people. Technically, whom replaces who when the question word is being used as an object of a verb or preposition. However, we rarely use whom beyond very formal writing.


With whom did you play that game?

Whose

Whose is used to ask questions of ownership. In other words, determining who an object/thing belongs to.

Whose pen is this?
Whose car did you borrow?

When

When is used to ask questions about time. Though, if we just want to know the time right now, we use what (What time is it?). Most other time questions use when.

When will you pick up your friend from the airport?
When did you graduate from high school?

Why

Why is used to ask for an explanation or a reason.

Why is he so angry? (Explanation)
Why didn’t you go to prom? (Reason)

Why Don’t

When combined with don’t, why becomes a suggestion in the form of a question.

Why don’t you visit him? (Suggestion)
Why don’t you try it? (Suggestion)

Where

Where is used to ask questions about a place or location.

Where will we meet up tonight?
Where did you say your school was?

How

How has several uses in English. The main one is to ask for instructions. However, we also use how to inquire about the quality of something or the extent of something. When asking about the extent of something, we pair it with an adjective (i.e. how fast) or adverb (i.e. how quickly).

How do you write a letter? (Instruction)
How is the fish today? (Quality)
How long can you hold your breath? (Extent)

What

What is used to ask for information.

What do you like?
What kind of car do you own?

Which

Which is often confused with what as, in some cases, they overlap. Which is used to ask someone about a choice between a limited number of options.

Which kind of bread do you want?
Which chair would you prefer?

In both of the above sentences, we could use what instead of which. Generally, when there are a small number of choices, we will use which. But, if there are many potential options, we will use what.

Question Words Quiz

There are two exercises here for you to practice with. You can find the answers to these questions in the next section.

Fill in the Blank

Fill in the blank with the correct question word to complete the question. We will also provide an answer to the question to help you.

1. ______ is your favorite color?
My favorite color is green.

2. ______ are you going to the park this afternoon?
I’m going to the park at noon.

3. _____ is he leaving class?
Because he is feeling sick.

4. _____ did Napoleon fight his last battle.
Napoleon’s last battle was at Waterloo.

5. _____ plate do you want? The black or the white one?
I want the black one, please.

6. _____ did they make that explosion?
They made it with gasoline.

7. ______ is knocking on my door?
Greg is knocking on your door.

8. _____ car is in the driveway?
That’s your mom’s new car.

Make a Question

We will provide you with an answer, and we would like you to form a question that could go with it.

1. I want the cup on the left.

2. He should be coming by at 3 o’clock.

3. That’s Tim’s.

4. My dad is doing well, thank you.

5. My favorite class is math.

6. My office is beside the bank.

7. Because he slept in and couldn’t make it to class on time.

8. That’s my friend Paula.

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Fill in the Blank – Answers

1. What is your favorite color?
My favorite color is green.

2. When are you going to the park this afternoon?
I’m going to the park at noon.

3. Why is he leaving class?
Because he is feeling sick.

4. Where did Napoleon fight his last battle.
Napoleon’s last battle was at Waterloo.

5. Which plate do you want? The black or the white one?
I want the black one, please.

6. How did they make that explosion?
They made it with gasoline.

7. Who is knocking on my door?
Greg is knocking on your door.

8. Whose car is in the driveway?
That’s your mom’s new car.

Make a Question – Answers

Some of our answers may be slightly different than yours. So please use your best judgment when it comes to marking these questions. If you aren’t sure if your answer is correct, you can comment on this post, and we can give you an answer as soon as possible.

1. I want the cup on the left.

Which cup do you want?

2. He is coming by at 3 o’clock.

When is he coming by?

3. That’s Tim’s.

Whose is that?

4. My dad is doing well, thank you.

How is your dad?

5. My favorite class is math.

What is your favorite class?

6. My office is beside the bank.

Where is your office?

7. Because he slept in and couldn’t make it to class on time.

Why was he late for class?

8. That’s my friend Paula.

Who is that girl?

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Final Thoughts

There are many ways to form a question, but many of the easiest ways involve a question word. Question words not only help you ask questions, but they also help you identify which sentences are questions. We hope this brief introduction to question words in English has helped you improve your English confidence. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment on this video, or to click on the question image below.

Click here to ask your questions.

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