EnglishEdit

 
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Alternative formsEdit

EtymologyEdit

From Middle English which, hwic, wilche, hwilch, whilk, hwilc, from Old English hwelċ (which), from Proto-Germanic *hwilīkaz (what kind, literally like what), derived from *hwaz, equivalent to who +‎ like. Cognates include Scots whilk (which), West Frisian hokker (which), Dutch welk (which), Low German welk (which), German welcher (which), Danish hvilken (which), Swedish vilken (which), Norwegian hvilken (which), Icelandic hvílíkur (which).

PronunciationEdit

DeterminerEdit

which

  1. (interrogative) What, of those mentioned or implied.
    Which song shall we play?
    They couldn't decide which song to play.
    Which one is bigger?
    Show me which one is bigger.
  2. The/Any ... that; whichever.
    You may go which way you please.
  3. (relative, formal outside certain phrases) Designates the one(s) previously mentioned.
    • 1860, Alfred Henry Forrester, Fairy footsteps, or, Lessons from legends, with illustr., by Alfred Crowquill, page 166 (Google Books view):
      After glaring upon the smoking philosopher, who took his misfortunes with such positive nonchalance, he growled out an oath in German, which language is particularly adapted for growling in; then, raising his hand, he dealt him a blow on his pipe, which sent it, like a rocket, into the midst of the players.
    • 2015 January 21, Texas Public Radio, “Voices From Death Row: A Prisoner Writes An Ode To ‘Living Dyingly’”, in Texas Public Radio:
      Whitaker’s blog post, housed on a website called Minutes Before Six, goes on to make references to Albert Camus’ 1947 classic, The Plague, dips into a Camus-inspired existential ramble and returns to an attempt to convey the detail of Prieto’s being essentially “noble,” which fact, he admits, will be lost in translation to anyone unfamiliar with death row units.
    • 2015 May 2, Adarsh Matham, “Battle of the Smartphones”, in The New Indian Express:
      All the phones come in plastic bodies that have been given a brushed-metal finish and carry 64-bit processors from Intel, which fact they proudly announce with an Intel Inside logo on the back.
    He once owned a painting of the house, which painting would later be stolen.
    Yesterday, I met three men with long beards, which men I remember vividly.
    For several seconds he sat in silence, during which time the tea and sandwiches arrived.
    I'm thinking of getting a new car, in which case I'd get a red one.

Usage notesEdit

In cases where both "which" and "what" are possible, with similar meaning, "which" is preferred for choices from a closed group or set, while "what" is preferred for open-ended choices. For example, "Which one of these do you want?" not "What one of these do you want?".

TranslationsEdit

PronounEdit

which

  1. (interrogative) What one or ones (of those mentioned or implied).
    • 2013 August 17, Schumpeter, “In praise of laziness”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8849:
      Which of these banes of modern business life is worse remains open to debate. But what is clear is that office workers are on a treadmill of pointless activity. Managers allow meetings to drag on for hours. Workers generate e-mails because it requires little effort and no thought. An entire management industry exists to spin the treadmill ever faster.
    Which is which?
    By now, you must surely know which is which.
    Which is bigger, the red one or the blue one?
    I'm unable to determine which is bigger.
    Which of these do you want to keep?
  2. The/Any ones that; whichever.
    Please take which you please.
  3. (relative) Introduces a relative clause giving further information about something previously mentioned.
    He walked by a door with a sign, which read: PRIVATE OFFICE.
    I found my camera, which I thought I'd lost, under the bed.
    No art can be properly understood apart from the culture of which it is a part.
    He had to leave, which was very difficult.
  4. (relative, archaic) Used of people (now generally who, whom or that).
    • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Acts IX:
      The men which acompanyed him on his waye stode amased, for they herde a voyce, butt sawe no man.

Usage notesEdit

  • (US usage) Some authorities insist that relative which be used only in non-restrictive clauses. For restrictive clauses (e.g., The song that you just mentioned is better than the later ones), they prefer that. But Fowler, who proposed the rule, himself acknowledged that it was "not the practice of most or of the best writers". Even E. B. White, a notorious "which-hunter", wrote this: "the premature expiration of a pig is, I soon discovered, a departure which the community marks solemnly on its calendar." In modern UK usage, The song which you just mentioned is better than the later ones is generally accepted without question.
  • As a relative pronoun, which (not that) is used when the relative clause is non-restrictive (e.g., "I saw Tom's car, which was parked outside his house") or when it is the object of a preposition placed in front of the pronoun (e.g., "These are the things about which we shall talk", "There were many fish, the biggest of which...").
  • When which (or the other relative pronouns who and that) is used as the subject of a relative clause, the verb agrees with the antecedent of the pronoun. Thus, "the thing which is...", "the things which are...", etc.
  • Which is commonly used, sometimes with partitive of, instead of who (the ordinary interrogative pronoun, in the nominative singular or plural) to refer to a person or persons, and corresponding to what of things. Compare "which of us always uses who for people" and "who among us has never used which for a person". Neither "who of us" nor "which among us" is idiomatic.

Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit

TranslationsEdit


Middle EnglishEdit

Alternative formsEdit

EtymologyEdit

From Old English hwelċ, from Proto-Germanic *hwilīkaz.

PronunciationEdit

PronounEdit

which

  1. which
    • 1407, The Testimony of William Thorpe, pages 40–41
      And I seide, “Ser, in his tyme maister Ioon Wiclef was holden of ful many men the grettis clerk that thei knewen lyuynge vpon erthe. And therwith he was named, as I gesse worthili, a passing reuli man and an innocent in al his lyuynge. And herfore grete men of kunnynge and other also drowen myche to him, and comownede ofte with him. And thei sauouriden so his loore that thei wroten it bisili and enforsiden hem to rulen hem theraftir… Maister Ion Aston taughte and wroot acordingli and ful bisili, where and whanne and to whom he myghte, and he vsid it himsilf, I gesse, right perfyghtli vnto his lyues eende. Also Filip of Repintoun whilis he was a chanoun of Leycetre, Nycol Herforde, dane Geffrey of Pikeringe, monke of Biland and a maistir dyuynyte, and Ioon Purueye, and manye other whiche weren holden rightwise men and prudent, taughten and wroten bisili this forseide lore of Wiclef, and conformeden hem therto. And with alle these men I was ofte homli and I comownede with hem long tyme and fele, and so bifore alle othir men I chees wilfulli to be enformed bi hem and of hem, and speciali of Wiclef himsilf, as of the moost vertuous and goodlich wise man that I herde of owhere either knew. And herfore of Wicleef speciali and of these men I toke the lore whiche I haue taughte and purpose to lyue aftir, if God wole, to my lyues ende.”

DescendantsEdit

  • English: which
  • Scots: whilk, whulk
  • Yola: wich, which, whilke

ReferencesEdit


YolaEdit

PronounEdit

which

  1. Alternative form of wich
    • 1867, “CASTEALE CUDDE'S LAMENTATION”, in SONGS, ETC. IN THE DIALECT OF FORTH AND BARGY, number 2:
      Which maate.
      Which made.

ReferencesEdit

  • Jacob Poole (1867), William Barnes, editor, A Glossary, With some Pieces of Verse, of the old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland, London: J. Russell Smith, page 102