Interrogative pronouns are used for asking questions. Examples are: who, what, whose and which.
- Who are you?
- What are you doing there?
- Whose is this pen?
- Which is the road to the railway station?
The interrogative pronoun who has different forms for different cases: who (subject form), whom (object form), whose (possessive form). What and which remain unchanged in all cases.
The interrogative pronouns what and which can also be used as interrogative adjectives. They are then followed by the nouns which they qualify.
- What explanation can you give for that?
- Which person do you want to meet?
- Which book would you like to read?
- Whose house is that?
Correct use of interrogative pronouns
Who is used only for persons.
- Who is this?
- Who is going to be the next Prime Minister?
- Whose is this cat?
- Whom did you meet?
- Who is that man?
Which is used for both persons and things.
- Which is your boy?
- Which is your bag?
- Which of the girls is the tallest?
What is used only of things.
- What did you pay for this?
- What does he mean?
- What is your excuse?
- What happened?
Distinction between ‘What is he?’ and ‘Who is he?’
The question ‘What is he?’ refers to a man’s profession, whereas the question ‘Who is he?’ refers to a man’s name.
- ‘What is he?’ ‘He is a doctor.’
- ‘Who is he?’ ‘He is John.’
- ‘What are you?’ ‘I am a teacher.’
- ‘Who are you?’ ‘I am Dr Susan Fernandez.’