Question Words: Who, What, Where, When

question words exercises

 Question Words: Who, What, Where, When

Question words “Who”, “What”, “Where”, and “When” are an important part of learning English as they help gather information about a person, object, place, or time. To use these words effectively:

  • Who is used in questions about the identity of people or groups of people.
  • What is used for questions about identifying objects, ideas, or events.
  • Where is used for questions about location.
  • When is used for questions about the time of events or actions.

Each of these questions has its own contextual features and uses, allowing for precise and clear formulation of questions and obtaining necessary information. Learning the correct usage of these words helps develop communication skills and confidence in expressing oneself in English. Let’s look at them in more detail and do an exercise to reinforce the knowledge.

Who – Rules of use and examples

The word “who” is used for questions about people or groups of people.

Examples of questions:

  • Who is she? – A question about a person.
  • Who are they talking to? – A question about the identity of a group of people.

Let’s consider some rules for using “Who”:

Questions about a person or persons:

  • “Who” is placed at the beginning of a question to ask about the identity or characteristics of a person or persons.
    • Examples:
      • Who is she?
      • Who are they?

Forming subordinate clauses:

  • “Who” can be used to form subordinate clauses in complex sentences.
    • Examples:
      • She is the one who helped me yesterday.
      • I don’t know who he is.

Use in question phrases:

  • “Who” allows asking questions about personality or identity, as well as identifying persons in a specific context.
    • Examples:
      • Who won the game?
      • Who are you talking to?

Use in subject sentences:

  • “Who” can be the subject in a sentence, indicating the person or persons performing an action.
    • Examples:
      • Who opened the door?
      • Who is coming to the party?

Use in relative adjective clauses:

  • “Who” is used in relative adjective clauses to indicate the person or persons referred to in the main sentence.
    • Examples:
      • The person who called you left a message.
      • Those who arrived early got the best seats.

“Who” in English mostly allows asking questions about a person.

What – Rules of use and examples

“What” is used for questions about identifying objects, ideas, or events.

Examples of questions:

  • What is this? – A question about identifying an object.
  • What are you doing? – A question about an action or event.

The main rules for using “What” in English include its use for questions, forming sentences, and expressing ideas. Here’s a detailed overview of the rules:

Rules for using “What”:

Interrogative sentences:

  • “What” is placed at the beginning of a question to obtain information about various objects, ideas, or events.
    • Examples:
      • What is your name?
      • What time is it?
      • What are you doing?

Clarification or questions about identification:

  • “What” can be used to ask about specific details or characteristics of an object or event.
    • Examples:
      • What color is your car?
      • What did you eat for lunch?

Forming complex subordinate clauses:

  • “What” is used to form subordinate object clauses, indicating the object of action in the main clause.
    • Examples:
      • She doesn’t know what to say.
      • Tell me what you want.

Usage in expressing ideas or concepts:

  • “What” can be used to express ideas, concepts, or notions that represent abstract concepts.
    • Examples:
      • What a great idea!
      • I don’t understand what he meant.

Usage in relative adjective clauses:

  • “What” can be used in relative adjective clauses to indicate the object that is defined in the main clause.
    • Examples:
      • He gave me what I needed.
      • Tell me what you see.

Where – Rules of use and examples

“Where” is used for questions about location.

Examples of questions:

  • Where is the nearest bank? – A question about location.
  • Where did you go last summer? – A question about a place someone traveled to.

Rules for using “Where”:

Questions about place or location:

  • “Where” is placed at the beginning of a question to ask about a specific place or location.
    • Examples:
      • Where is the nearest supermarket?
      • Where did you go yesterday?

Usage in expressing place:

  • “Where” is used to indicate a place or direction of movement in a sentence.
    • Examples:
      • I don’t know where he lives.
      • This is where we met for the first time.

Usage in subordinate clauses:

  • “Where” can be used to form subordinate adverbial clauses, indicating the place, time, or condition of an action.
    • Examples:
      • She told me where to find the keys.
      • Let’s go where it’s warm.

Usage in relative adjective clauses:

  • “Where” is used in relative adjective clauses to indicate a place that is defined in the main clause.
    • Examples:
      • This is the place where we used to play as kids.
      • I know a place where we can eat good sushi.

Usage in question phrases:

  • “Where” allows asking questions about place or direction, particularly in the context of travel or locations.
    • Examples:
      • Where are you going for vacation?
      • Where is the best place to eat around here?

“Where” in English is important for accurately expressing questions about location, forming sentences, and expressing ideas about various places and conditions.

When – Rules of use and examples

“When” is used for questions about time.

Examples of questions:

  • When does the movie start? – A question about the time an event begins.
  • When is your birthday? – A question about the time an event occurs.

Rules for using “When” in English

The question word “when” is used to ask about the time when an action or event occurs. Here are detailed rules for its use:

Questions about time:

  • “When” is used for questions about the exact time something happened, is happening, or will happen in the future.
    • Example: When did you arrive?
    • Example: I don’t know when they will arrive.

Repetition:

  • “When” is also used for questions about the frequency or regularity of events.
    • Example: When do you usually go to the gym?
    • Example: I remember when we used to visit our grandparents every summer.

Using “when” in complex sentences:

  • “When” can be used in complex sentences to emphasize the time when an action occurs.
    • Example: She was studying when the phone rang.

Conditions and time classes:

  • “When” is used to indicate time frames or conditions in which an action takes place.
    • Example: When it rains, I stay indoors.

Relative usage:

  • “When” can be used in relative constructions to emphasize a time period or point in time.
    • Example: That was the time when we first met.

“When” in English allows for precise expression of the time of an event or action and is an important aspect of language learning for understanding chronology and time frames in storytelling.

Table comparing the use of questions with question words “Who”, “What”, “Where”, “When”

Question WordUsageExample Questions
WhoQuestions about a person, people, or groups of people (or animals).Who is she?
Forming subordinate clauses.She is the one who helped me yesterday.
Used as the subject in sentences.Who opened the door?
WhatQuestions about objects, ideas, things, or events.What is your name?
Forming complex subordinate clauses.Tell me what you want.
Expressing ideas or concepts.What a great idea!
WhereQuestions about location.Where is the nearest supermarket?
Used in phrases about places.I don’t know where he lives.
Used in subordinate clauses.She told me where to find the keys.
WhenQuestions about time.When does the movie start?
Frequency of actions.When do you usually go to the gym?
Used in complex sentences.She was studying when the ph

Quiz – Choose the correct answer: “Who”, “What”, “Where”, “When” 

___ is coming to dinner tonight?

___ did you last visit your grandparents?

___ are you going on vacation?

___ color is the sky on a clear day?

___ opened the window?

___ does the bus arrive?

___ is the best time to plant tomatoes?

___ are you meeting for lunch?

___ is your favorite place to visit?

___ was the Declaration of Independence signed?

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