Question Words

English Grammar Rules

Question Words in English

English Teachers: If you would like to use this Question Words wall chart in your classroom, then you can purchase a copy here: Question Words Wall Chart and Flash Cards.



The most common question words in English are the following:


WHO

WHO is only used when referring to people. (= I want to know the person)

  • Who is the best football player in the world?
  • Who are your best friends?
  • Who is that strange guy over there?

WHERE

WHERE is used when referring to a place or location. (= I want to know the place)

  • Where is the library?
  • Where do you live?
  • Where are my shoes?

WHEN

WHEN is used to refer to a time or an occasion. (= I want to know the time)

  • When do the shops open?
  • When is his birthday?
  • When are we going to finish?

WHY

WHY is used to obtain an explanation or a reason. (= I want to know the reason)

  • Why do we need a nanny?
  • Why are they always late?
  • Why does he complain all the time?

Normally the response begins with "Because..."

WHAT

WHAT is used to refer to specific information. (= I want to know the thing)

  • What is your name?
  • What is her favourite colour?
  • What is the time?

WHICH

WHICH is used when a choice needs to be made. (= I want to know the thing between alternatives)

  • Which drink did you order – the rum or the beer?
  • Which day do you prefer for a meeting – today or tomorrow?
  • Which is better - this one or that one?

HOW

HOW is used to describe the manner that something is done. (= I want to know the way)

  • How do you cook paella?
  • How does he know the answer?
  • How can I learn English quickly?

With HOW there are a number of other expressions that are used in questions:

How much – refers to a quantity or a price (uncountable nouns)

  • How much time do you have to finish the test?
  • How much is the jacket on display in the window?
  • How much money will I need?

How many – refers to a quantity (countable nouns)

  • How many days are there in April?
  • How many people live in this city?
  • How many brothers and sister do you have?

How often – refers to frequency

  • How often do you visit your grandmother?
  • How often does she study?
  • How often are you sick?

How far – refers to distance

  • How far is the university from your house?
  • How far is the bus stop from here?



Next activity

Try our interactive games to practice Question words:
Question Words 1 and Question Words 2.

Download our free Question Words Worksheet (in PDF).
You can check the answers to this worksheet here: Answers to the Question Words Worksheet.

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Last Updated: 04 April 2014
Question Words in English - Wall Chart and Flash Cards for English Teachers