The Question Words WHICH & WHAT



In questions, these words ask which thing or person is being referred to. They are placed before the noun.

  • Which dress are you going to wear tonight?
  • What colour is your dress?
  • Whose car are you going to use?


If you are trying to make a choice, what is used to ask when there are an unknown number or infinite possibilities for an answer. You know that there are many, many ways that exist to address your question, and you make — from all the possibilities, and you might not even know about some of them — the best choice.

  • What movie did you go to see?


Which is used if you are choosing between a more limited number of items, already defined, like this:

  •  Which shoes should I wear with this dress—my blue ones or my black ones?

You can use which when you have a very small or limited field to choose from. Certainly use which, not what, when there are only two choices, or if both speaker and listener can visualize all the items under consideration:

  • Which foot did you break?

Often which or what can be used for several choices, depending on what is in the speaker’s mind:

For example:-

  • a - "Which bus goes into the centre?"
  • b - "What bus shall I take?"

Both sentences are fine. The speaker is probably thinking about fewer buses in sentence (a) than in sentence (b).