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O21 Question Words

Lesson Twenty-one

Question Words

This page lists all the question words that you need to know when asking a question for information. Click here for a video for the word "how."

How: method / manner / situation

  • Q: How do you know her?
  • A: I know her from school. Her name is Nella.


  • Q: How did you figure out that problem?
  • A: I worked it out on the blackboard.

  • Q: How do I get to Lake Street from here?
  • A: Go straight and take a left.
  • Q: How did you make the crust for this pie?
  • A: I used flour, shortening, salt, and ice water.
  • Q: How do you like your coffee?
  • A: I like it with a little bit of cream.

How about:

Do you want to…..?
  • John: How about going to a movie later?
    (Do you want to go to a movie)
  • Ying: Okay. What do you want to see?
  • John: How about an action movie?
  • Ying: No, I don’t want to see that. How about a comedy instead?
  • John: Okay.



How about:

What is your opinion of ____?
  • Q: How about those Twins?
  • (What do you think about the team?)
  • A: Yeah, they’re doing great this season.
  • How about this weather?

(What’s your opinion on the weather?)


How come: why

  • Sandra: How come you didn’t call me?
  • Javier: I was busy.


  • Sandra: Why didn’t you call me?
  • Javier: I was busy.



  • A: Norbert didn’t show up at the party.
  • B: How come?
  • A: He had tickets to a basketball game.


How far: distance / extent

  • Q: How far is it to the nearest town?
  • A: It’s about 20 miles.
  • Q: How far is it from the earth to the moon?
  • A: It’s about 240,000 miles away.
How high: height
  • Q: How high is that mountain
  • A: It’s about half a mile high.

How long: length

  • Q: How long is the ski trail?
  • A: It’s about five miles long.
  • Q: How long was the movie?
  • A: It was about 90 minutes long.

film reel

  • Q: How long is her hair?
  • A: It goes down to her shoulders, but she usually wears it in a pony tail.

How tall: height

  • Q: How tall are you, Caner?
  • A: I’m six feet tall.


  • A: How tall is that building?
  • B: It’s 15 stories high.

How old: age

  • Q: How old are you?
  • A: I’m 31 and she’s 29.
  • Q: How old is your baby?
  • A: She’s nine months old.
How many: amount (count nouns)
  • Q: How many knives are in that knife block?
  • A: There are ten knives.
How much: amount (noncount nouns)
  • Q: How much lettuce do we need to get?
  • A: Not very much. We just need one head.

What: general information
  • Q: What time is it?
  • A: It’s ten minutes before two.
  • Q: What’s that?
  • A: It’s a marshmallow.
  • Q: What are those?
  • A: They’re tortilla chips.
What about: consider this
  • Mother: What are you going to do this afternoon?
  • Daughter: I’m going to go play basketball.
  • Mother: What about your homework.
  • Daughter: I’ll do it later.
  • Mother: No, you should do it now and play basketball later.
  • Daughter: Okay.

What…for: purpose / reason

  • Q: What do you use this for?
  • A: You use it for cutting the grass. It’s a lawnmower.
What kind of: type / category
  • Q: What kind of a musical instrument is that?
  • A: It’s an accordion.
  • Q: What kind of fruit do you like to eat?
  • A: I like to eat kiwi.

When: time / date

  • Student: When were you born?
  • Teacher: I was born in 1963.

Where: location

  • Paul: Where did you go yesterday?
  • Daniya: I went to a coffee shop to meet some friends.


Which: choice of two or more

  • Q: Which do you prefer, red peppers or green peppers?
  • A: I like them both, but I prefer red peppers because they’re sweeter.
Who: subject for a person
  • Q: Who is she?
  • A: Her name is Natalia. She’s my classmate.


Whom: object for a person
  • Q: Whom did you go fishing with last week?
  • A: I went fishing with Michael.

(Note: Although "whom" is the correct choice, many Americans use "who" instead.)


Whose: possessive form for a person
  • Q: Whose motorcycle is that?
  • A: It belongs to Luiz.
Why: reason
  • Q: Why does she look so sad?
  • A: Her dog died.
Why not: reason
  • Q: Why doesn’t he hire someone to paint his house?
  • A: He can’t afford it.


Next: Lesson Twenty-two

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