Hello there! I am positive that you are learning well on this platform. It is natural for us to ask questions as humans. Do you know that questions in English have various forms of structure? All these forms come under interrogative sentence. (See Types of Sentences According to Function). This post titled Wh Questions with Definition, Uses, Formation and Examples focuses on Wh questions, as a form of interrogation.
Wh Questions with Definition, Uses, Formation and Examples
In considering the wh questions, we will look at their meaning or definition, consider their structure or formation and provide some examples alongside some exercises. We will also take a look at the uses of the wh questions.
Wh Questions Definition
Wh questions are types of question that usually begins with the ‘wh’ element which, in English, we refer to as the ‘Q-word’ that is, the ‘question word’.
Unlike polar questions, the answer to wh question does not begin with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. In addition, a wh question permits broad or open-ended number of answers, unlike polar question, which has the possibility of only two answers. At the end of the wh question, the voice pitch drops. This distinguishes it from the polar question among other things. (See Types of Questions in English)
Wh Questions Structure
There is a formation or structure of the Wh question. In forming this type of question, the Q-word, that is, wh comes first, the operator, which could be a modal auxiliary verb or a non-modal auxiliary verb follows, the subject comes next, then the lexical verb and the adjunct.
Wh Questions Formation
Sometimes the lexical verb may not appear, depending on the structure of the sentence. Also, the adjunct could be optional. So we have this formation:
Wh + the operator + the subject + lexical/main verb e. g. When did you come?
Wh + the operator + the subject + the adjunct e. g. Why are you here?
The question word include relative pronouns such as:
It also include adverbs such as:
The question word also include the nominal elements such as:
Wh Questions Examples
1. What are you doing over there?
2. How has life been with you?
3. Where did you meet your wife?
4. Why have you been away from work?
5. When are we planning to leave the party?
6. Who are you looking for?
7. Whom did you give the letter?
8. Who can we get to help us?
9. How long have you been waiting here?
10. What conditions necessitated the release of the prisoners?
Examples of Wh Questions with Answers
1. Where can I learn English? – You can learn English on Akademia.
2. How did the snake enter the garden? – It entered through the hole.
3. Where did they travel to? – They travelled to Russia for the World Cup.
4. What have you been doing? – I have been weeding the garden.
5. When are you travelling? – I will travel tonight.
6. What does she like to do? – She likes to knit sweaters.
7. How are we going to the place? – We are going on foot.
8. Whose book was missing? – It was John’s book.
9. Whom did you expect to see? – I expected to see the Boss.
10. Why are you rushing? – Because I want to catch up with the bus.
Use of Wh Questions
We use the Wh questions to elicit information. The various wh question words have their different functions. Let us see some of them with examples:
We use what for a thing and it is nominal in nature. We use which to refer to choice or options
- What is it you are holding?
- Which way to the hospital?
- Which colour do you prefer, blue or green?
Whom and who are used for a person and they are pronominal or relative in nature. We use whose to refer to a person but a noun must follow it.
• Who is the man looking for?
• Whom do you come to see on weekends?
• Whose bag is this?
See the post Whose vs Who’s and Whom for further explanations.
We use why to show the reason for an action and it is adverbial in nature. We use how to indicate the manner of an action and it is equally adverbial in nature. How also indicates amount or way/means. The same goes for when which we use to depict the time an action or event takes place and where which indicates place.
• Why are you shouting?
• How did you solve the equation?
• How much did she pay for the goods?
• When do we take our leave?
• Where were you coming from?
• How do we get to the airport?
Wh Questions Exercises
The following are exercises of Wh Question for you to attempt. The answers are provided at the end of this post. Do not cheat! Attempt them first before you check the answers. You are expected to provide the appropriate question word.
1. _____ do you go after school hours? – I go visiting my grandma.
2. _____ is coming with you to the party? – My new friend is coming with me.
3. _____ are you doing? – I am doing pretty fine.
4. _____ does the class start? – The class starts at 7 O’clock.
5. _____ did he run away? – He ran away because he was afraid.
6. _____ car is parked under the shed? – It is the principal’s car.
7. _____ of the two balls is yours? – The green ball is mine.
8. _____ type of ice cream flavour do you like? – I like the vanilla flavour.
9. _____ did you here? – Mr. Johnson brought me in his car.
10. _____ will the train arrive? It will arrive at 9 a. m.
This post has addressed just one type of questions that we have in English. There are other types of questions that we have in English. You can check the post Types of Questions in English to see these other types. Do not forget to share this post via the share buttons on this page. You can also get on our social media platforms to connect with us. See you around!
Answers to Wh Questions Exercises
8. What / Which