The key difference between which and what is that which is generally used in cases where there is a limited choice whereas what is used when the choice is bigger.
Which and what are two common interrogative pronouns in the English language. The origin of what lies in the Old English word hwæt. In the same manner, the origin of which lies in the Old English word hwilc.
What Does Which Mean?
Which can be used with nouns to ask questions as in the following sentences. Which is generally used in cases where there is a limited choice. In other words, it is used when there is a limited number of choices for the question asked. For example, imagine your friend gave you several books. If he asks you, “Which book do you like the most?”, the answer is one of several books he gave you. Similarly,
Which stamp do you want?
Which color would you like? Green, blue or yellow?
In the above sentences, you can see that the choice given to the person is limited.
Which can be used as a determiner too. In fact, it is often used with a noun in a relative clause as in the sentence given below.
He may be late in which case we have to wait for him.
What Does What Mean?
This pronoun can be used with nouns to ask a question as in the examples given below.
What game do you want to play now?
What musicians do you admire?
There are numerous answers to the questions above. Unlike in which, the answers to questions using this pronoun is limitless.
To be more specific, what is used when the choice is bigger. Look at the example given below.
What book is your choice?
In the above sentence, by the use of the word what you can find that the choice offered is certainly bigger.
What are the Similarities Between Which and What?
- What and which can both be used with nouns to ask questions. In other words, both of them are used as interrogative pronouns.
Both these words can be used as pronouns without noun; as in the sentences ‘which is better?’ and ‘what is more beautiful between the two? In both the sentences, you can see that the noun is not used, but is simply substituted by the use of the words which and what, respectively.
What is the Difference Between Which and What?
Which vs What
|Which is generally used in cases where there is a limited choice||What is used when the choice is bigger.|
|A derivative of Old English word hwilc||A derivative of Old English word hwæt|
|Interrogative pronoun, interrogative determiner, relative pronoun and relative determiner||Interrogative pronoun, determiner and adverb|