English edit

 
English Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

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).

Pronunciation edit

Determiner edit

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 notes edit

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?".

Translations edit

Pronoun edit

which

  1. (interrogative) What one or ones (of those mentioned or implied).
    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?
    • 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.
  2. The/Any ones that; whichever.
    Please take which you please.
  3. (relative) Introduces a non-restrictive 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.
    He had to leave, which was very difficult.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Luke 1:1:
      Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us...
    • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter II, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., →OCLC:
      Sunning himself on the board steps, I saw for the first time Mr. Farquhar Fenelon Cooke. [] A silver snaffle on a heavy leather watch guard which connected the pockets of his corduroy waistcoat, together with a huge gold stirrup in his Ascot tie, sufficiently proclaimed his tastes.
    • 1913, Mrs. [Marie] Belloc Lowndes, chapter II, in The Lodger, London: Methuen, →OCLC; republished in Novels of Mystery: The Lodger; The Story of Ivy; What Really Happened, New York, N.Y.: Longmans, Green and Co., [], [1933], →OCLC, page 0091:
      There was a neat hat-and-umbrella stand, and the stranger's weary feet fell soft on a good, serviceable dark-red drugget, which matched in colour the flock-paper on the walls.
    • 2013 May-June, Katrina G. Claw, “Rapid Evolution in Eggs and Sperm”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3:
      Many genes with reproductive roles also have antibacterial and immune functions, which indicate that the threat of microbial attack on the sperm or egg may be a major influence on rapid evolution during reproduction.
    • 2013 July 20, “Welcome to the plastisphere”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
      Plastics are energy-rich substances, which is why many of them burn so readily. Any organism that could unlock and use that energy would do well in the Anthropocene. Terrestrial bacteria and fungi which can manage this trick are already familiar to experts in the field.
  4. (relative, sometimes proscribed) Introduces a restrictive relative clause giving further information about something previously mentioned. (see usage notes)
  5. (relative, chiefly archaic) Used of people (now generally who, whom, that; which remains possible with words also referred to by it like baby, child).

Usage notes edit

  • (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, acknowledged that it was "it would be idle to pretend that it is the practice either of most or of the best writers.". 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 terms edit

Related terms edit

Translations edit

Chinese edit

Etymology edit

From English which (non-restrictive relative clause marker).

Conjunction edit

which

  1. (Hong Kong Cantonese) which; discourse marker introducing personal assessment or comment of the preceding clause

Related terms edit

References edit

  • Brian Hok-Shing Chan (2022), “Constructional Borrowing From English in Hong Kong Cantonese”, in Frontiers in Communication, volume 7, →DOI

Middle English edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

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

Pronunciation edit

Pronoun edit

which

  1. which

Descendants edit

References edit

Yola edit

Pronoun edit

which

  1. Alternative form of wich
    • 1867, “CASTEALE CUDDE'S LAMENTATION”, in SONGS, ETC. IN THE DIALECT OF FORTH AND BARGY, number 2, page 102:
      Which maate mee hearth as coale as leed.
      Which made my heart as cold as lead.

References edit

  • 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