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Monday, July 23, 2018

What is what?


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Tdorante10

Photo license: CC BY-SA 4.0


What is the definition of what? Here is my definition:


What is a question word used to ask for the predicate's actual subject


Think of the question: what is in the refrigerator? In this question, 'what' is the subject and 'in the refrigerator' is the predicate. The answer to this question, we would replace the word 'what' with the actual subject. For example, an answer could be, 'pineapples are in the refrigerator'. Here you can see that the original subject ('what') was replaced with a new subject ('pineapples'). In this regard, we can think of the word 'what' as pointing to the actual subject.


I also believe that the word 'what' is the most fundamental question word. All of the other major question words can be reconstructed using the word 'what'. 'How' means 'what way'. 'Why' means 'what reason'. 'Which' means 'what one'. 'Where' means 'what place'. 'Who' means 'what person'. If I was forced to choose only one question word for the rest of my life, I would choose 'what'.



License: CC BY-SA 4.0