Interrogative adjective masterclass

This post helps us understand what an interrogation adjective is, and how to use it correctly in a sentence.

What is an interrogative adjective in English?

An interrogative adjective comes before a noun and helps us ask a question. There are 3 interrogative adjectives in English:

  • Which
  • What
  • Whose
Interrogative adjective


The word ‘which’ as an interrogative adjective is used to find something out of a number of given options. In other words, we use ‘which’ when we have some options that we choose an object from. The interrogative adjective ‘which’ is used to refer to it.

Which box would you like to choose as a gift? 

There are a few boxes that are given as options. The person is asked to choose one box out of the given boxes. The word ‘which’ works as an adjective in the sentence, modifying the noun ‘box’.

Which course are you opting for?

You are provided with a couple of options as a course. You are very well aware of all the options. And the speaker wants to know which course out of the available courses you are going to choose.


  • Which movie did you like the most?
  • Which burger would you like to have?
  • Which project did you like the most?
  • Which flat suits your budget?
  • Which phone is yours?
  • I like all my shoes. Which one should I put on for the party?


The word ‘what’ as an interrogative adjective is used to refer to an object out of a comparatively large number of possibilities.

In other words, we use ‘what’ when there are a lot of options that something can be selected from or we don’t know how many options are available.

What country are you planning to go to?

It is an open-ended question, meaning the options are wide, and the person who is asked the question has been given a few options. It could be any country; the options are not understood or given.

If the speaker had given the person a few options to choose from or had known a couple of countries that were in the list of options that the person was thinking of, we would have needed ‘which’ to ask this question.

Jon: I know Nepal, Switzerland, England, Thailand, and Russia are some of the countries you have not been to and would love to go to.

Max: Absolutely. I would love to visit these countries.

Jon: So, which country are you planning to visit in the winter?

In this conversation, both the speaker and the listener know the options that are on the table. They are limited and specific, and that’s exactly where the interrogative adjective ‘what’ is needed.


  • What color is your favorite?
  • What kind of movies do you like to watch?
  • What food can she cook?
  • I am not good with outdoor games. What game are we playing though?
  • What time will you reach the station?
  • What present do you want for your birthday?


The word ‘whose‘ as an interrogative adjective is used to refer to someone that the object it modifies belongs to.

Whose car have you brought here?

The interrogative adjective ‘whose’ intends to find the owner of the noun it modifies: car. 


  • Whose coat are you wearing? It looks great on you.
  • Whose phone did you call me from? I am sure it wasn’t yours.
  • Whose kids are they? They seem to have been lost.
  • Whose car is this?
  • I don’t know whose bag this is. I found it at the back of the class.
  • Whose designation are jealous of the most?


Use ‘what‘ when the options to choose the answer from are open and not known to the speaker or they are not obvious to the speaker.

  • What drink do you like to drink?

The speaker has no prior information about the kind of drinks the other person like to have, meaning the options are unknown to the speaker.

Use ‘which‘ when the options to choose the answer from are known/given/obvious to the speaker.

  • Which plot have you decided to buy?

The speaker, in this example, is aware of the options the other person is going to choose the answer from. They definitely know how many plots the person has seen and are asking the person to choose one from known options.

  • Which leg was hurt in the accident?
  • What leg was hurt in the accident?

There are only two legs on a person. The number of options the answer can be chosen from is very limited and is already known to both the speaker and the person being asked the question. Therefore, the correct word to use is ‘which’, not ‘what’.

Interrogative adjective vs interrogative pronoun

Both interrogative adjectives and interrogative pronouns look and spell the same: what, which, and whose. What makes the difference is that the former comes before a noun and works as an adjective, and the latter does not follow a noun and works as a pronoun.

Interrogative pronouns

  • What does he do?
  • What is your name?
  • Which is your car?
  • Which is his favorite drink: tea or coffee?
  • Whose is this wallet? I found it at the main gate.
  • These dogs are adorable. Whose are they?

Interrogative adjectives

  • What food would you like to order?
  • Which offer did you take?
  • Whose bike were you riding the other day?

Notice these words (what, which, whose) function as an adjective in these examples; they have a noun after them that they modify. But when they function as a pronoun, they stand alone.

An interrogative adjective can be a part of a noun clause

An interrogative adjective does not always start a question; it can be a part of an affirmative/negative sentence coming at the beginning of a noun clause.

  • I want to know what city he lives in.

In this example, the interrogative adjective ‘what‘ comes at the beginning of the noun clause (what city he lives in) and modifies the noun ‘city‘. Notice this is not a question; it is an affirmative sentence.

  • He asked me what day my birthday was on.

This is an example of indirect speech where a direct question has been embedded into a reported speech and the question becomes a part of the sentence and becomes a noun clause (what day my birthday was on).

More examples:

  1. She did not tell me whose performance she enjoyed the most.
  2. It’s hard to predict what country he lives in.
  3. I, from the get-go, knew which team he was going to select.

Interrogative adjective vs interrogative adverb


Interrogative adjectives

(what, which, whose)

These are words that come before a noun and modify them by referring to an object or the possession of a person.

1. Which house is yours?
2. What problem do you have with him?
3. Whose kid is this?

Interrogative adverbs

(when, where, how)
These are words that stand alone and refer to a part that modifies a verb in a sentence. The answer to an interrogative pronoun is a regular adverb or a preposition phrase, infinitive phrase, or adverb clause that modifies a verb and works as an adverb.
1. When did you call her?
2. Where does she live?
3. How did I do in the test?


What are the 3 types of interrogative adjectives?

The interrogative adjectives in English are what, which, and whose. Ex – What subject do you like studying? Ex – Which movie impresses you the most? Ex – Whose car are you driving?

How do you use interrogative adjectives in a sentence?

Interrogative adjectives are used to modify a noun and refer to an object. They come right before a noun and modify it. Ex – Which kid is yours? Ex – What time will you come back? Ex – The teacher did not tell the students whose assignment they liked the most.

How do you identify interrogative adjectives and interrogative pronouns?

Interrogative adjectives modify a noun that comes right after them, and interrogative pronouns stand alone; they don’t have a noun sitting next to them. Ex – Which movie did you like more? (interrogative adjective) Ex – Which is your favorite movie? (interrogative pronoun)

How do you describe interrogative adjectives?

An interrogative adjective is a word that comes before a noun and helps the sentence refer to an object or the possession of a person. What, which, and whose are the words that function as interrogative adjectives.

Now, we know what an interrogative pronoun is and everything about it. Feel free to share your question, doubt, or feedback in the comment section, and also, share the post with the people that need it.

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Ashish found his first love—the English language—a few years back. Since then, he has been immersed in the language, breaking down the language and teaching it to passionate English learners. He has a flair for listening to the English language (podcasts, sitcoms, stories), observing the nuances, and making it easy for English learners. He is known for breaking down complex English topics and making them easy to be understood.

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