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adverb, determiner, interjection, predeterminer, pronoun what pronunciation in American English /wɑt/what pronunciation in American English /hwɑt/
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What can be used in the following ways:
as a question pronoun (introducing a direct or indirect question): What do you want?Tell me what happened.
as a relative pronoun (starting a relative clause that is subject, object, or complement of another clause): She showed me what she had bought.
as a determiner (followed by a noun and introducing a question): What subjects are you studying? (followed by a noun and introducing a relative clause): I’ll give you what money I have.
as a predeterminer (before “a,” “an,” or “the”): What a nuisance!
as an adverb: What does it matter?
as an interjection: What! You mean I’ve been wasting my time?
  1. 1
    which thing
    1. a.
      used for asking which thing, action, or idea something is, or which type of thing, action, or idea something is
      What’s your name?
      What time is it?
      What was the weather like?
      I asked her what kind of music she liked.
      People sometimes ask me what I’m going to do when I retire.
      “I’m worried, Harry.” “What about?”
    2. b.
      used when someone knows or says which thing, action, or idea something is
      I told him what the problem was.
      She wasn’t quite sure what she was going to say.
      We suddenly realized what was happening.
      I haven’t even thought about what I’m going to wear to the dinner.
      what to do/say/think etc.: Poor Kevin! He doesn’t know what to do.
  2. 2
    used for referring to a particular thing, action, or idea
    You haven’t given me what I asked for.
    What you need is a good long vacation.
    What annoys me is the way he boasts about what he’s done.
    George always does his best, and that’s what I like about him.
  3. 3
    used for referring to the whole amount that remains or is available
    Tom eagerly finished up what was left of the champagne and chicken pie.
    What little free time he had was spent with the family.
  4. 5
    spoken used when someone has just called your name or shown that they want to speak to you, and you are asking them to continue
    “Hey, Julie!” “What?” “Come here – I have something to show you.”
  5. 6
    spoken used for introducing a remark in which you emphasize how big, good, bad, etc. someone or something is
    What awful weather we’ve been having!
    What a nice surprise!
    What a nuisance for you, having to make all these changes.
  6. 7
    spoken used for showing that you are surprised or shocked by something that you have just heard or seen
    What! You mean he can’t read or write?
    What! Are they still in bed?
  7. 8
    spoken used when you pause to think because you are guessing a number or amount
    You’ll have to pay rent, which is, what, about $600 a month or something like that.


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