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Definition of 'Interrogative' - Grammar Glossary of English and Spanish

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Definition: Referring to words or word forms that are used primarily in questions.

Both Spanish and English have interrogative pronouns, interrogative adjectives and interrogative adverbs, and often the same word can fulfill more than one function depending on how it is used in a sentence. For example, in the Spanish sentence "¿Cuántos tienes?," meaning "How many do you have?," cuántos functions as an interrogative pronoun. But in the sentence "¿Cuántos coches tienes?," meaning "How many cars do you have?," cuántos functions as an interrogative adjective. (Similarly, in the English translation, the interrogative phrase "how many" functions as a pronoun in the first sentence and as an adjective in the second one.)

In English, the interrogative words in common use are "who," "what," "where," "when," "why" and "how." (They also can be used in noninterrogative ways.)

In Spanish, the interrogative words in common use are cómo, cuál, cuándo, cuánto, dónde, qué and quién.

Note that all the Spanish interrogative words use an orthographic accent. The same words also have noninterrogative uses, and then no such accent is used.

Also Known As: Interrogativo in Spanish. Interrogative words are sometimes known as question words in English.

Examples: The following Spanish sentences and their English translations all use interrogative words. Note that in the final example, they are sometimes used in statements that pose an indirect question. ¿Qué haces? (What are you doing?) ¿Cuál es tu problema? (What's your problem?) No sé dónde está. (I don't know where he is.)

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