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Thread: what/which

  1. #1
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    what/which

    TDOL: May I borrow a pen from you?

    Mike: Sure. I have two pens. This pen has black ink. That pen has red ink. Which do you want?

    TDOL: That one. Thanks.


    One student asked me if she can use "what do you want" here. I don't see any semantically wrong. I'd say it's better to use "which" in this context because Mike has two pens for TDOL to choose.

    Am I right?

  2. #2
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    Re: what/which

    Quote Originally Posted by blacknomi
    TDOL: May I borrow a pen from you?

    Mike: Sure. I have two pens. This pen has black ink. That pen has red ink. Which do you want?

    TDOL: That one. Thanks.


    One student asked me if she can use "what do you want" here. I don't see any semantically wrong. I'd say it's better to use "which" in this context because Mike has two pens for TDOL to choose.

    Am I right?
    "Which" would be better for two reasons. First, the choice is bewteen a finitie number of identified items. Second, without using the noun (pen) or a pronoun (such as one), "What do you want" can mean something totally different than a choice of pens.

    Which (pen/one) do you want. -- the best
    What pen do you want. -- marginal
    What do you want. -- poor

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    I agree with Mike here.

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    Thank you very much, Dear Mike. @->--

    Thanks there, Tea-Doll :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by blacknomi
    Thank you very much, Dear Mike. @->--

    Thanks there, Tea-Doll :)
    You're very welcome. :wink:

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