What Are the 7 WH Questions in English? The Ultimate Guide with Examples
In English, one type of question is the “WH question.”
They are called open questions because there are many possible answers, and they usually start with “WH.”
You can use WH questions to find out information about people, places, ideas or things.
For example: Where are you from?
Your answer to this question will likely be different from your friend’s answer to this question.
But you cannot say “yes” or “no,” since the answer must be a place, like “China.”
Read on to learn how to ask WH questions in English!
- Bonus: How…?
- How to Form WH Questions in English
- WH Questions: Practice Test
- Practice WH Questions Online
- And One More Thing...
“What” is a very common question word. Use “what” to ask about a thing or idea.
Usually, the answer to a “what” question is a noun (a person, place, thing or idea).
What is your favorite book?
What time is it?
What do you study at college?
You can also use “what” to ask someone to repeat something:
What did you say?
Another WH question word is “when.” Use it to ask about a time or date.
When did you finish your homework?
When are we meeting at the restaurant?
When does the movie start?
To ask about a specific time, you can replace “when” with “what time.”
What time does the movie start?
To ask about a place, use the WH question word “where.”
Where did you go to school?
Where were you born?
Where is the bathroom?
Use “who” to ask a question about a person or people.
Who is your brother?
Who did you eat lunch with?
Who is your favorite actor?
A word like “who” is “whom.” However, “whom” is not very common.
Technically, “whom” asks about the direct object of the sentence. For example:
A: To whom should we send the letter?
B: We should send the letter to my mom.
In English, saying “whom” is formal. You can just use “who” in your conversations.
Use the WH question word “why” to ask for a reason or explanation.
The answer will usually include the word “because.”
A: Why is the stove on?
B: It is on because I am boiling water to make pasta.
A: Why didn’t you come to my party?
B: Because I was too tired.
Use the word “which” to ask about a specific choice.
Which kind of ice cream would you like, strawberry or chocolate?
Which movie did you prefer?
To find out who owns something, start the question with “whose.”
A: Whose book is this?
B: It is mine.
A: Whose dog is this?
B: This is Phil’s dog.
“How” doesn’t start with WH, but it works the same way as the WH question words.
Use “how” to ask about the way something happened or the way to do something.
How did my car get scratched?
How do you cook broccoli?
You can also use “how” to ask about the condition, quality or state of something. That means you want to know if something is good or bad.
How was your day at work?
How was the movie you watched last night?
How is your cat doing?
To ask for specific information, you can add an adjective or adverb after the word “how.”
Here are some common examples:
“How far” asks about distance.
How far is the shopping mall?
“How long” asks about time.
How long did you cook the turkey?
“How many” asks about a countable noun.
How many rooms are in your house?
“How much” asks about an uncountable noun.
How much water do you drink every day?
“How much” also asks about money.
How much did you pay for your car?
“How old” asks about age.
How old is your son?
“How come” is an informal way to ask “why.”
How come you did not come to school yesterday?
How to Form WH Questions in English
To ask a WH question, say the WH word at the beginning of the question.
After the WH question word, there are two options. We can switch the subject and verb, or we can use do-support. Let’s check out both!
Switch the Subject and the Verb
To get the question form, switch the subject and the verb in the statement form.
Let’s look at the question “Who is she?”
Start with a WH word: Who
Next is a verb: is
Finally, the subject: she
All together, you have the question: “Who is she?”
But what does it mean to switch the subject and the verb?
Here is the question and its answer:
Who is she?
She is my English teacher.
In the answer statement, the subject (she) is before the verb (is). In the WH question, we switched the order to get “is she.”
(If we do not change the order, we would say: “Who she is?” This is NOT correct English.)
Some WH questions use do-support. This means that the verb “do” is placed after the WH word.
The verb “do” can be in the present tense or the past tense. To ask about the future, use “will.”
After the word “do,” we say the subject and then the verb.
What do you want to eat for dinner?
First is the WH word (what). Then we have the word “do.” Next is the subject (you) and then the verb “want.”
All of the extra information (to eat for dinner) comes after the verb.
Now, let’s look at the past tense. This time, we will use “did” instead of “do.”
What did you eat for dinner?
We can also ask about the future. We will use “will” instead of “do.”
What will you eat for dinner?
Do-support can also be negative. To do this, include the word “not” or the contraction “didn’t (did not).”
Why did he not come to the party?
Who did not finish their homework?
What didn’t you like about the movie?
WH Questions: Practice Test
Practice makes perfect!
Choose one of the words in brackets to fill in the blank for each question. Write your answers down on a piece of paper. After, check your answers below.
1. “____ is the name of your dog?” [What, How]
2. “____ ____ oranges did you buy?” [How many, How far]
3. “____ did you grow up?” [Who, Where]
4. “____ is your favorite actor?” [Who, When]
5. “____ ____ is the movie?” [How come, How long]
6. “____ did you study biology?” [Which, Why]
7. “____ handbag is this?” [Where, Whose]
8. “____ car did you buy?” [Why, Which]
9. “____ did you make that?” [How, Who]
10. “____ ____ away is the office?” [How much, How far]
11. “____ should we send this box to?” [Why, Whom]
12. “____ ____ is your father?” [How old, How many]
13. “____ did you talk to?” [Whom, Where]
14. “____ ____ did your jacket cost?” [How much, How old]
15. “____ did you buy this house?” [Whose, When]
16. “____ ____ you went to university?” [How far, How come]
1. “What is the name of your dog?”
2. “How many oranges did you buy?”
3. “Where did you grow up?”
4. “Who is your favorite actor?”
5. “How long is the movie?”
6. “Why did you study biology?”
7. “Whose handbag is this?”
8. “Which car did you buy?”
9. “How did you make that?”
10. “How far away is the office?”
11. “Whom should we send this box to?”
12. “How old is your father?”
13. “Whom did you talk to?”
14. “How much did your jacket cost?”
15. “When did you buy this house?”
16. “How come you went to university?”
Practice WH Questions Online
You will need to practice to really get the hang of (become good at) WH questions in English.
There are many places you can practice WH questions on the internet.
- Take this simple fill-in-the-blank quiz for WH questions from ProProfs.
- FluentU has movie trailers and other fun videos so you can see native English speakers using WH questions and more.
- Agenda Web has different activities to practice WH questions. You can fill in the blanks, put the sentences in the correct order or write your own WH questions.
- Use Anki or Quizlet to make your own WH question flashcards. Review them regularly to get better at forming WH questions in English.
WH questions will help you have many different conversations in English. You will feel more confident during small talk, job interviews and more!
But don’t stop there: how far will your English take you?
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.