If I want to know what something is called, for example a book, would I ask it in which of these ways:

  1. What book is it?

  2. What is this book?

  3. What book is this called?

  4. What is this book called?

Are all of the above correct and mean the same thing? or mean different things while all being correct? Could explain it a bit, please? THANK YOU.


1 Answer 1


The answer depends on exactly what you are trying to establish.

If you do not know what the object is called:

What do you call this item / object?

If you want to know the title of this book:

What is this book entitled?
What is the title of this book?

If you want to know what the book is about:

What is this book about?
What is the subject of this book?

If you want to know what type of book this is:

What kind /type / genre of book is this?

If you want to know the publisher or author:

Who is the publisher / author of this book?
Who is the book by?
Who published / wrote the book?

You might ask What book is it if you saw someone reading a book:

What book is it (that you are reading)
which is the same as asking:
What are you reading?

To ask What is this book works in a certain context:

What is this book that is causing all the trouble?

What is this book called is unclear as to whether you are asking for the title or the genre or the classification (an atlas, a dictionary for example)

  • Thank you very much @Ronald sole. It was really helpful.
    – Guri
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 4:43
  • "What is this book entitled?" sounds very stilted and unnatural to me, and I would assume "What is this book called?" to refer to the title. Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 9:47
  • @KateBunting True, but it might also be called an atlas or a dictionary . Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 15:00

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