Do these sentences have identical meanings and are they grammatically correct?

  1. What colour is her hair?
  2. What is her hair colour?

1 Answer 1


The question asks is "the colour (of her hair)" the same as "her hair colour"

Normally these would be equivalent. Sometimes, in context, "hair colour" might mean the same as "hair dye", so it would be possible, in context, for "What is her hair colour" to mean "What brand of hair dye does she have?". The first expression is the normal way of asking about someone's appearance.

  • 2
    It's worth pointing out that the second form is mainly restricted to contexts where the two-word collocation hair colour is being treated as a "category" for matching purposes. So What is her hair colour? can be lumped together with What hair colour is she?, same as, for example, What shoe size are you?, What fuel type is your car?, etc. (where it's also okay to reverse those elements and query what colour hair, size shoe, type fuel.) These "noun attribute" versions typically occur in the context of hairdressers, shoe salesmen, auto mechanics, etc. Aug 5, 2020 at 12:55

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