Posted by: Jack Henry | April 1, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Whiches and Whats

It’s April Fools’ Day, one of my least favorite days of the year. My husband, however, regards this as a great opportunity to play dead, pretend to turn around his politics, and last year he decided to post that I was having a miracle baby. Don’t be fooled!

Yesterday we focused on “that’s” and “whiches,” and I received a follow-up question asking about “whiches” and “whats.” “Editrix,” the woman wrote, “Can you please explain when to use which and what in questions?”

But of course! I will do the best I can.

Generally, if there are an unknown or infinite number of possible answers, you would use the open-ended what to ask a question. Examples:

· What time are you going to dinner?

· What is your favorite color?

· What are you going to do this weekend?

Use which for a limited, finite set of answers.

· Which do you prefer, the red one or the blue one?

· Which finger did you break?

· Which showing are you going to?

Occasionally, either one is a possibility. It depends how much the “asker” knows about the options and what kind of assumptions he or she is making.

· What bus should I take? (Maybe I have no idea if there are two buses or two hundred buses that leave from the depot.)

· Which bus should I take to the rave? (I am assuming there are a limited number of options.)

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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