I want to know how to use "which" in spoken English. For instance: I am a shop keeper and a customer came and asked about a book. That book I have neither seen nor heard of. What would my answer be?

I don't know which book you want.


I don't know the book which you want.


1 Answer 1


Which can be a determiner (noun follows) or relative pronoun (new clause with subject/verb/complement follows).

In your case it's best if you use it as a determiner, like articles.

I don't know which book you want

is how you want to say it.

I don't know the book which you want

This is technically correct but if someone is not listening closely they may think you are talking about not knowing a book, in the same sense as not knowing a person or subject.

You would say this if you never had heard of the book that the other person is talking about at all.

I don't which book you want.

You broke the sentence here by not finishing your current clause before starting a new one with which. "I don't" always needs a verb right after it.

(You can only say "I don't" without a verb after it in response to a question and nothing else will follow, e.g. "Do you work on cars? I don't.")

  • Thanks. If I say the customer. You can take which book you want instead you can take the book which you want. Am I right? Nov 5, 2016 at 18:22
  • Yeah, that works. Either way.
    – LawrenceC
    Nov 6, 2016 at 2:10

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