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“Which” vs “what” - what's the difference and when should you use one or the other?

Which of the following two phrases is the more correct or are they both acceptable?

What word best describes XXX ?

Which word best describes XXX ?

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marked as duplicate by Mahnax, Bravo, RegDwigнt May 20 '12 at 10:08

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The use of three X's sound funny. –  Noah May 20 '12 at 12:01

1 Answer 1

I would say "which word" if I'm presenting a short list of words, one of which is the correct answer. In other words, if this question is multichoice. "Which" often means "choose from a number of options".

I would say "what word" if the question is open-ended; there's no suggested list, and any word in the English language is potentially an answer.

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+1. I'd have said the same as well, but this is a dupe. –  Kris May 20 '12 at 7:33

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