What Part of Speech is “WHAT”

In English texts and verbal communication, the word what also have various functions. It can be used as a adjective, an adverb, a pronoun, or an interjection.

  1. Adjective

This word is commonly classified as an adjective if it is used to introduce a noun or a noun phrase. In the sample sentence below:

What time is it?

The word “what” introduces the noun “time,” and is therefore considere d as a adjective.


a. asking for information specifying something

  • Example:
  • What books did you buy?


  1. Adverb

In some cases, the word “what” is considered as an adverb if it modifies a verb. For instance, in the sample sentence below:

What does he care?

The word “what” functions as an adverb because it modifies the verb “care.”


a. in what way

  • Example:
  • What does it matter?


  1. Pronoun

The word “what” is also normally categorized as a pronoun if it is used for asking questions about something or if it is used to substitute a noun. For example, in the sentence below:

What we need is commitment.

This “what” word is classified under pronouns because it replaces a thing or a noun.


a. asking for information specifying something

  • Example:
  • What is beauty?

b. used to describe a question

  • Example:
  • What is this?

c. the thing or things that (used in specifying something)

  • Example:
  • I want to do what I can to make a difference.


  1. Interjection

Other times, this word is classified under interjections because it can be used to express sudden emotions. Take for example, the sentence:

What a suggestion!

In this sample sentence, the word “what” is used to exclaim and express a burst of emotion regarding the noun “suggestion.”


a. emphasizing something surprising or remarkable

  • Example:
  • What a charming lady!


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