Interrogative Pronouns – Examples & Rules

Interrogative pronouns are pronouns that generally engage with questions. As its name suggests, they engage with things one is not aware of.

Pronouns are words used in place of nouns in a sentence. And it has different classifications and categories that carry out different functions.

Interrogative pronouns belong to one such class of pronouns. And it is a pronoun that makes use of similar words as relative pronouns.

However, they are in no way used in the same manner. Interrogative pronouns have a completely different purpose.

Let us discuss them in detail.

What are Interrogative pronouns?

Interrogative pronouns are pronouns that are used for interrogating something or someone. It is used when there is no definite information that one is aware of. They are a part of pronouns because they stand in replacement of the noun.

When we use interrogative pronouns, we use them in place of the noun that is the answer, which is still not revealed.

Interrogative pronouns are – what, who, whom, which, and whose, etc.

Let us understand with some examples;

  • What are those?
  • Who is going to perform?
  • Whom did you call?

The answers to these questions are the nouns of the respective sentences. And interrogative pronouns replace them.

Difference between relative pronoun and interrogative pronoun

We noticed that interrogative pronouns and relative pronouns are the same words. Most people confuse them to have the same purpose. But we need to realize they are different from each other.

Interrogative pronouns are words used when one is interrogating or asking a question. We question something or someone. And once we lift the interrogation, it is no longer an interrogative pronoun.

When there is no interrogation, it will turn into a relative pronoun. Here the pronouns only act as an adjective clause relating to the noun or the subject. For example;

  • Who is that person? (Interrogative in nature)
  • That girl who won the lottery is here. (Relative in nature)

Difference between interrogative pronouns and determiners

People also tend to confuse interrogative pronouns and determiners. They are both different and have different purposes.

Interrogative determiners are used to modify a noun that is already present in the sentence. They do not replace the noun. But interrogative pronouns replace the unknown noun. For example;

  • What drama are we watching?
  • Whose shirt is that?

These are modifying the nouns. They are interrogative determiners.

  • Who is that?

There is no noun present here. These are known as interrogative pronouns.
The difference basically lies in open-ended questions and questions with limited responses.

Difference between interrogative pronouns and interrogative adverbs

Other most commonly confused concepts are interrogative pronouns and adverbs.
Interrogative adverbs modify the verbs. Words like when, where, how, etc., are interrogative adverbs. But interrogative pronouns focus on the nouns. For example;

  • Where will your friend go?
  • How does this phone work?

Here, the focus is on the verb.

  • Who is talking?
  • Whom are you calling?

Here, the focus is on the noun.

These are the basic points and differences that one needs to remember to avoid any errors regarding the usage and concept of interrogative pronouns.

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