Interrogative pronoun masterclass

This lesson helps us understand what an interrogative pronoun is, how it is used, and when to use it in a sentence.

What is an interrogative pronoun in English?

An interrogative pronoun is used at the beginning of an interrogative sentence to form a question. What, who, whom, whose, and which are the five interrogative pronouns in English.

interrogative pronoun infographic


The subject

  1. What is your name?
  2. What makes you happy?
  3. What is the capital of India?

The object of a verb

  1. What do you like to eat?
  2. What does your father do?
  3. What did you eat for lunch?
  4. What did they say to you?
  5. What would you have?

The object of a preposition

  1. What did you hide under?
  2. What can you not live without?
  3. What are we going for?
  4. What are you looking for in this job?

The subject complement

  1. What is this?
  2. What is your name?
  3. What am I to you?
  4. What are the consequences of going there alone?

The object complement

  • What does she call you?
  • What will you name your first baby?
  • What do you consider me?


  • Which‘ as an interrogative pronoun refers to the subject of a sentence.
  • It refers to a thing.


  1. Which is your favorite book among these?
  2. Which of these is your least favorite dish?
  3. Which is your favorite fruit: mango or apple?
  4. Which of these cars is yours?
  5. Which is better: tea or coffee?


  • Who‘ as an interrogative pronoun is used to refer to the subject and the subject complement.
  • It refers to a person.

The subject

  1. Who helped you last night?
  2. Who lives with you?
  3. Who told you about my marriage?
  4. Who called you a liar? I didn’t.
  5. Who has come to see me?
  6. Who will help you if I throw you out of my house?

The subject complement

  • Who is your best friend?
  • Who is your brother?

When a question is formed with the interrogative pronoun ‘who/what‘, the answer can be written as the subject or the subject complement.

Question: Who is your best friend?

  1. Riya is my best friend. (subject)
  2. My best friend is Riya. (subject complement)

Question: What is the capital of India?

  1. Delhi is the capital of India (subject)
  2. The capital of India is Delhi. (subject complement)


  • Whom‘ as an interrogative pronoun is used to refer to an object of a verb or an object of a preposition.
  • It refers to a person.

The object of a verb

  1. Whom do you like more: Tina or Riya?
  2. Whom did you call for help last night?
  3. Whom did they select in the final round?
  4. Whom will you appoint as the new head of the sales department?
  5. Whom should I call now?

The object of a preposition

  1. Whom are you talking about?
  2. Whom are you talking to?
  3. To whom had you sold this property?
  4. Whom are you planning to go to Shimla with?
  5. Whom would you live with if he moved out?


  • Whose’ as an interrogative pronoun is used to refer to the person who owns something or something belongs to.
  • It often refers to a person, but it can be a thing.


  1. These kids are so rude. Whose are they?
  2. I’d love to buy this house. Whose is it?
  3. Whose are these glasses? I am taking them on the road trip.
  4. This cat is adorable. Whose is it?
  5. Whose are those helmets? Can we use them for an hour?

Interrogative pronoun vs relative pronoun

Most of these words (who, whom, which, and whose) function as a relative pronoun too. So, how do we know if they function as an interrogative pronoun or a relative pronoun in a sentence?

Interrogative pronouns come at the beginning of a question and form a question. Relative pronouns, on the other hand, don’t start a question. When working as a relative pronoun, they (who, whom, which, and whose) come after a noun that they refer to.

  • Who is the head of the department? (interrogative pronoun)
  • Tom Brooks, who is the president of UFL, is coming to India next month. (relative pronoun)
  • Whom are you living with? (interrogative pronoun)
  • This is the guy whom I told you about? (relative pronoun)
  • Which is your favorite picture? (interrogative pronoun)
  • Last week, I went to Mumbai, which is my birthplace. (relative pronoun)
  • This car looks expensive. Whose is it? (interrogative pronoun)
  • Some villagers attacked a man whose car injured some cows. (relative pronoun)

The nouns the relative pronouns in the above examples refer to are underlined to be highlighted.

Who vs Whom

When working as an object, both ‘who‘ and ‘whom‘ can be used interchangeably.

In modern English, the word ‘who‘ is used to function as both the subject and the object. The use of ‘whom‘ has come down drastically.

  • Whom are you talking about? (highly formal and traditional)
  • Who are you talking about? (modern English)
  • Whom did they hire for the coding work? (highly formal and traditional)
  • Who did they hire for the coding work? (modern English)

When referring to an object, though the use of ‘whom’ has come down and people often use ‘who’ instead, ‘whom‘ remains to be the more grammatical word when working as an object.

Don’t confuse an interrogative pronoun with an interrogative adjective!

The words WHAT, WHICH, and WHOSE are words that function as both an interrogative pronoun and an interrogative adjective.

As interrogative pronouns, they stand alone and don’t follow a noun. When they function as an adjective, they take a noun after them.

  • What do you want? (interrogative pronoun)
  • What color do you want? (interrogative adjective)
  • Which is your favorite movie? (interrogative pronoun)
  • Which movie is your favorite? (interrogative adjective)
  • This is an amazing artwork. Whose is it? (interrogative pronoun)
  • Whose artwork is it? This is amazing. (interrogative adjective)

Interrogative pronouns vs interrogative adverbs

An interrogative adverb comes at the beginning of a sentence and seeks information about the main verb of a clause. An interrogative pronoun, on the other hand, also comes at the beginning of a sentence but specifically refers to a noun.

There are 4 interrogative adverbs in English:

  • How
  • When
  • Why
  • Where


  1. How did you get here? (reason of the main verb)
  2. How can I learn English? (reason of the main verb)
  3. When did you come here? (time of the action)
  4. When will you return my money? (time of the action)
  5. Why are you still here? (reason for the action)
  6. Why did Allen leave the company? (reason for the action)
  7. Where do you live? (place of the action)
  8. Where did you hide the remote? (place of the action)

The answers to these questions are going to be adverbials: prepositional phrases, infinitive phrases, and adverb clauses.

Question: How did you get here?
Answer: I came here in my car. (prepositional phrase)

Question: When did you come here?
Answer: I came here in the morning. (prepositional phrase)

Question: Why did Allen leave the company?
Answer: He left the company because he got a better offer. (adverb clause)

Question: Why does she exercise too much?
Answer: She exercises too much to keep herself fit. (infinitive phrase)

Question: Where did you hide the remote?
Answer: I hid the remote under the bed. (prepositional phrase)


What are interrogative pronouns?

Interrogative pronouns are used at the beginning of an interrogative sentence to form a question. The five interrogative pronouns in English are what, who, whom, whose, and which.

What are the 5 examples of interrogative pronouns?

1. What is this question about?
2. Who are you?
3. Whom are you working with on this project?
4. Whose are these notebooks?
5. Which was your favorite performance?

What is an example of an interrogative pronoun and an interrogative adjective?

What drinks does she like?
What does she like?

Which song did you like the most?
Which was your favorite song?

What is the difference between an interrogative pronoun and interrogative adverb?

An interrogative pronoun refers to a noun, and an interrogative adverb (when, where, why) refers to some information about a verb.
When = refers to the time of the action (verb)
Where = refers to the place of the action (verb)
Why = refers to the reason for the action (verb)
How = refers to the manner of the action (verb)

Practice set!

1. ___ do you want from me?

a) whom
b) what
c) whose
d) which

2. ___ have you learned this from?

a) whom
b) who
c) which
d) what

3. These are beautiful. ____ are they?

a) what
b) whose
c) who
d) whom

4. ___ of those did you enjoy the most?

a) which
b) what
c) what
D) who

5. ___ is this guy? I think I have seen him somewhere.

a) what
b) whom
c) who
d) whom


  1. What
  2. Whom
  3. Whose
  4. Which
  5. Who

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

For one-on-one classes, contact me at [email protected].

Sharing Is Caring:

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.

Leave a Comment