Tag Info

Hot answers tagged

33

"Which" is more formal when asking a question that requires a choice between a number of items. You can use "What" if you want, though. Generally speaking, you can replace the usage of "which" with "what" and be OK grammatically. It doesn't always work the other way around, however. There needs to be a context of choice. For example: Which/What flavor ...


16

Questions of attribute which and what: We usually use which when we are asking about a fixed or limited number of things or people, and what when we are not. Often, however, we can use either which or what with little difference in meaning. Compare: What towns do we go through on the way? The speaker doesn't know the area. Which towns do we go ...


6

Both of the clauses beginning with what are noun clauses. You can tell they're noun clauses because they're both the object of the preposition of. much of [what scientists know about dinosaurs] the phenomenon of [what are known as corporate networks] Noun or complement clauses can function like nouns -- as subject, direct object, or prepositional object. ...


5

Which generally suggests a set of possible options, but what, on the other hand, allows for arbitrary selection. Additionally, your current consideration of data as singular is fine; however, you will need to pair it with a quantifier, as in data-set, if you intend to opt for the "choice from possible options mode". Hence I suggest one of the following. ...


3

Kip's answer is similar to the one we often see. Michael Swan, for example, (Practical English Usage, 2005.611) writes: We prefer which when we have a limited number of choices in mind. We've got white or brown bread. Which will you have? (More natural than ... What will you have?) Which size do you want - small medium or large? . ...


3

For this, I have to turn to Google Ngrams: What/Which day is What/Which month is What/Which year is Based on the Ngram results, it seems clear that what is far more common today for all questions relating to dates (however, that wasn't always the case). This is also consistent with my preferred usage and experience, where I would hear ...


3

The way I read it is one would use which when there is a (limited)choice between a few defined possibilities, and what when there are more choices and/or when these choices are not so defined. Used in a phrase I would say; Which of these Friday's would be best for you? Friday the 6th? Friday the 13th? Friday the 20th? What would be a good day for you? ...


3

They aren't exactly equivalent. "Which" should be used when the choice is to be made from within a defined, finite set of options, as in, "Which of these is your favourite: Math, English, or Social Studies?" "What" should be used when the answer to the question could be almost anything, and is not presupposed to come from a limited subset of all possible ...


3

In short, when the interrogative pronoun which is used, it is asking about something among a group of things. Note: which can also be used as a determiner.


3

One difference between the usage of "What" and "Which" is the difference between Noun Clauses and Adjective (Relative) Clauses. The same confusion occurs when a student makes a sentence like: The information WHAT scientists know about dinosaurs is limited. = X This sentence should be: WHAT scientists know about dinosaurs is limited. = Noun ...


2

The difference is that which is a relative pronoun and requires an antecedent, whereas what is not (at least in all Standard Englishes that I am aware of).


2

This isn't really a difficult one, watch this: Question: What do you know about dinosaurs? Make it to: Question: What do scientists know about dinosaurs? Answer with: Most of what scientists know about dinosaurs has been recently discovered.


2

Generally, use "which" to select from a confined set of possibilities where all are mentioned. Use "what" to select from an open set or where the possibilities have not been mentioned. There is some overlap, such as where there's an implied confined set. For example "For which day of the week are our reservations?" Here the set is confined but not ...


2

You are correct. In your case, "what" is being used in the eighth sense of Dictionary.com: (used relatively to indicate that which): I will send what was promised. A preposition-"which" construction is just like a normal "which" construction except that the noun phrase to which it refers (I used it here) is acting as the object of a preposition, ...


2

To clarify we're speaking of two different constructs using which or what as part of an adjectival phrase: This cake, which is my favorite, is very fattening. vs This cake, what is my favorite, is very fattening. Which is clearly the better usage in this scenario. I've certainly seen what used in this way (as a replacement for which), but I ...


2

'Which' rather than 'what,' is the accepted determiner/pronoun. "He wants to paint the walls of his flat, for which he needs the best tools." According to the Google dictionary: which (pronoun and determiner) used referring to something previously mentioned when introducing a clause giving further information. "a conference in Vienna which ended on ...


2

'What' is usually used for continuous data treated as, or rather being considered as, continuous: 'what time is it?' / 'what temperature do you brew your beer at?' / 'what speed are you doing?' For days and years, both 'what day/year was that?' and 'which day/year was that?' are used. Time is continuous, but is often treated as if it were discrete, and is ...


2

What day is Friday? There are 30/31 days in every month (except for February). That's quite a lot of numbers to choose or guess from. Faced with such an open-end question, I would first reply A) Which Friday are you talking about? B) Next week's A) Erm, let me think. It must be 21st However, when we're asking about today, we always use the ...


1

To me the more common sounding are: What day is Friday? What day is the first of November? Which month is the warmest in your city? Which season is it now in your city? I could ask " Which of the months is the warmest in your city?" and "Which of the seasons is it now in your city? and expect the same answers. "Which of the days is Friday?" or "Which of ...


1

The formal way to ask this is to ask about the ordinality of the position. In this case, you'd ask: What is the ordinality of Mr. X among prime ministers of India? However, I don't know that this question would be understood by most native speakers (ordinality is not a very common word). If you were asking a native speaker, the informal, though not ...


1

1.) This film is better than what we saw yesterday. You are right, the choice "what" should be acceptable. The choice "which" seems to be ungrammatical. LONG VERSION: Your example is in the form of a comparison construction that involves a fused relative noun phrase. Your example is somewhat similar to: 2.) This film is better than ...


1

[This answer expands on the answers and discussion of TrevorD and Janus Bahs Jacquet.] The OP's question seems to result from the false premise that all present participle phrases can be expanded the same way. This is not so. The fact that, John swung his arm wildly, hitting Jane in the head. can be expanded to John swung his arm wildly and he ...


1

Nice question! I had always thought that one would use "which" if one were listing items from a list, including a phrase which would if expanded become a list, and use "what" for that not in a list, or expandable as such. My examples: The tour guide let us know which items we were permitted to bring on the trip. Wisdom dictates which actions to take and ...


1

I think the confusion was created by non-native English speakers. In several other European languages (most of Slavic and Romance ones) the word translatable as "which" is used in this and many other situations where in English is used "what". So, for those speakers is just more natural to say "which" in this and other cases, since many are not aware that ...


1

The two phrases mean different things: "To what extent" asks the question in general without any specific extents being presupposed beforehand. Example: "To what extent would you be willing to help me move this weekend? "To which extent" chooses between several pre-existing options/distinguishes between them. Example: "You could just let ...



Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible