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    #1

    Difference between which and what

    I am always confused between which and what? When do you use which and when do you use what?

  2. #2

    Re: Difference between which and what

    Do you mean as in: "What books do you like?"
    Could you be more specific?


    • Join Date: Mar 2007
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    #3

    Re: Difference between which and what

    Which language do you speak at home?
    What language do you speak at home?

    which sentence is correct and where is it appropriate to use what and which?

  3. #4

    Re: Difference between which and what

    as I've been out of the classroom a couple of years, I've forgotten the specific terminology, but...
    in speech, many native speakers will use either "what" or "which" in the examples you gave and both would be understood and acceptable.
    "Which" generally suggests there are two or more possibilities and the person asking "which" probably knows what they are.
    "Which language do you speak at home?" suggests the person asking knows you speak three languages and wonders which of those three you speak at home.
    "What" is more general and the person asking may not know how many languages you speak nor what they are.
    but...like I said, in informal speech, both are used!


    • Join Date: Jan 2007
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    #5

    Re: Difference between which and what

    Quote Originally Posted by fiona bramble View Post
    as I've been out of the classroom a couple of years, I've forgotten the specific terminology, but...
    in speech, many native speakers will use either "what" or "which" in the examples you gave and both would be understood and acceptable.
    "Which" generally suggests there are two or more possibilities and the person asking "which" probably knows what they are.
    "Which language do you speak at home?" suggests the person asking knows you speak three languages and wonders which of those three you speak at home.
    "What" is more general and the person asking may not know how many languages you speak nor what they are.
    but...like I said, in informal speech, both are used!
    So I think, if we replace `what` with `which` there is no much difference in meaning.

    Am I right?

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    #6

    Re: Difference between which and what

    Which- refers to a closed set:
    'Which of these do you want?'
    You couldn't replace this with 'what'. There are cases where there isn't much difference, but where the choice is clearly restricted, then 'which' would be the better choice.


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    #7

    Re: Difference between which and what

    I was going through this english book I have and it says that "What" refers to an object, idea or event whereas "which" refers to person or thing. Can you throw some light on this please.


    • Join Date: Apr 2004
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    #8

    Re: Difference between which and what

    I agree with Tdol
    What is your favorite book?
    Which is your favourite fantasy book?

    What refers to an open set and which to a closed or more specific set of items to choose from.

    Which can refer to animals or objects but never to people. We use who for people (both in interrogative and relative sentences)


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    #9

    Re: Difference between which and what

    I have come across this quite number of time that "what" refers to object and "which" refers to thing. WHat do you mean by object ? Isn't thing an object too. So, what is the differnce between a thing and an object?

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    #10

    Re: Difference between which and what

    Saidon, that doesn't strike me as a very good explanation. I don't know where you got it from, but it really doesn't make much sense to me.

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