What is the difference between what and which?

For example, what is the difference between the following sentences?

What is correct?

Which is correct?


Which and what have different meanings. Which is "used in questions to ask somebody to be exact about one or more people or things from a limited number."

For example, you ask "What name to give to your son do you prefer?" because there are many possible names to give to a baby, including the ones in other languages.
Suppose instead that you are talking to somebody who is telling that his wife prefers Michael, her mother prefers Andrew, and his mother likes Alberto. If you ask him "Which name do you prefer?" you are asking him the name he prefers between those three; if you ask him "What name do you prefer?" you are asking him the name he prefers, not excluding any other name that is not Michael, Andrew, or Alberto.

In your case, "Which is correct?" could be asked when the person who is talking to you said, for example, "You could do this or that." Your question is asking "Between this and that, what is correct?"

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  • I know this but i want To Understand is It More Usual To Use what Instead Of witch? – homa jafari najd Jul 24 '13 at 12:45
  • It all depends from what question you are asking. It's not a matter of preferring one instead of the other; so, which one is more usual to use is something that cannot be said. – kiamlaluno Jul 24 '13 at 12:52
  • Can u explain more? – homa jafari najd Jul 24 '13 at 12:59
  • The words you are asking about have different meanings. (See my answer.) Asking which one is more common to use is like asking which is more common to use between dog and cat. – kiamlaluno Jul 24 '13 at 13:05

What is used when you are asking a question that can have an unlimited number of possible answers.

What is your name? You can receive any answer!

Which is used when the options for the answer are limited.

Which one is the most beautiful? The red or the yellow? You can receive only two answers.

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    Bon, if you have only two options you should say "Which one is more beautiful", but if you have three or more than you can say "Which one is the most beautiful". – user114 Jul 23 '13 at 20:06
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    @Carlo_R.: What you said there is very true, but you'll find that many native speakers will often say most in that circumstance (i.e., even when there are only two options, and more would technically be the more correct word). – J.R. Jul 23 '13 at 20:16

'What' stands as the subject and 'which' is the object of the sentence, also 'which' can stands as subject of the which clause that replace the whole clause of the previous sentence. 'What' is used to ask an unknown thing while 'which' means a choice among several things.

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