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a. What scientist invented the steam engine?

b. What man invented the steam engine?

c. Which scientist invented the steam engine?

d. Which man invented the steam engine?

Which are grammatically correct?

I use (c) and (d), although we have an unlimited number of scientists and men to choose from. I think (a) and (b) have disparaging connotations.

What man would do such a thing?'

But I am not sure I am right.

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  • You don't have to include a message of gratitude at the end of every question. I've had to edit them out from several of your posts. The SE consensus is to leave out fluff, and ELL practices the same idea. See this, this, and this
    – Eddie Kal
    Dec 21 '20 at 22:44
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All are grammatically correct.

The best is probably "which scientist". I dislike "Which man" because it implies it must have been a man. I prefer "which" to "what" as it is a selection that is limited. The set of scientists is much smaller than the set of all things.

But I'd not actually use any of these:

Who invented the steam engine?

(And the jokey answer is "Watt invented the steam engine." The actual answer is "it's complicated, many people contributed over 2000 years of development")

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    You can have fun with intonation with "what": What?! Man invented the steam engine?! - which doesn't work with which.
    – cyborg
    Dec 22 '20 at 1:36

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