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The Possessive Interrogative Determiner in English Grammar

Determiners are a closed class of words that provide information such as familiarity, location, quantity, and number about a noun or noun phrase. Determiners differ in form and function from adjectives, which describe attributes of nouns and noun phrases. Possessive interrogative determiners both (1) express possession of or some other relationship to another word or phrase, like the other possessive determiners, and (2) ask questions about unknown nouns and noun phrases, like the other interrogative determiners. The only possessive interrogative determiner in English is whose. Like other determiners, the possessive interrogative determiner performs the grammatical function of determinative.

Using Possessive Interrogative Determiners

The possessive interrogative determiner whose both expresses possession of or some other relationship to another word or phrase and formulates direct or indirect questions and exclamations. For example:

  • Whose car is in the driveway?
  • Whose uncle received the huge pay raise?
  • You sent the package to whose children?
  • The strange man bought whose broken lawnmower?
  • Whose baby did you say you were watching?
  • The tornado destroyed whose barn?

Possessive interrogative determiners both express possession of or some other relationship to another word or phrase ask questions about unknown nouns and noun phrases. The only possessive interrogative determiner in English is whose.

References

Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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