what


what
what [ wat, hwat ] function word ***
What can be used in the following ways:
as a question pronoun (introducing a direct or indirect question):
What do you want?
Tell me what happened.
as a relative pronoun (starting a relative clause that is subject, object, or complement of another clause):
She showed me what she had bought.
as a determiner (followed by a noun and introducing a question):
What subjects are you studying? (followed by a noun and introducing a relative clause):
I'll give you what money I have.
as a predeterminer (before a, an, or the ):
What a nuisance!
as an adverb:
What does it matter?
as an interjection:
What! You mean I've been wasting my time?
1. ) which thing
a ) used for asking which thing, action, or idea something is, or which type of thing, action, or idea something is:
What's your name?
What time is it?
What was the weather like?
I asked her what kind of music she liked.
People sometimes ask me what I'm going to do when I retire.
I'm worried, Harry. What about?
b ) used when someone knows or says which thing, action, or idea something is:
I told him what the problem was.
She wasn't quite sure what she was going to say.
We suddenly realized what was happening.
I haven't even thought about what I'm going to wear to the dinner.
what to do/say/think etc.: Poor Kevin! He doesn't know what to do.
2. ) a particular thing used for referring to a particular thing, action, or idea:
You haven't given me what I asked for.
What you need is a good long vacation.
What annoys me is the way he boasts about what he's done.
George always does his best, and that's what I like about him.
3. ) all of an amount used for referring to the whole amount that remains or is available:
Tom eagerly finished up what was left of the champagne and chicken pie.
What little free time he had was spent with the family.
4. ) => NOTE used when you did not hear what someone said SPOKEN used for asking someone to repeat what they have just said because you did not hear it clearly:
Turn the radio down, will you? What?
5. ) used when someone calls your name SPOKEN used when someone has just called your name or shown that they want to speak to you, and you are asking them to continue:
Hey, Julie! What? Come here I've got something to show you.
6. ) used for emphasizing a quality SPOKEN used for introducing a remark in which you emphasize how big, good, bad, etc. someone or something is:
What awful weather we've been having!
What a nice surprise!
What a nuisance for you, having to make all these changes.
7. ) used for showing surprise SPOKEN used for showing that you are surprised or shocked by something you have just heard or seen:
What! You mean he can't read or write?
What! Are they still in bed?
8. ) used when you pause to think SPOKEN used when you pause to think because you are guessing a number or amount:
You'll have to pay rent, which is, what, about $600 a month or something like that.
...and what have you SPOKEN
used for showing that you could also mention other things of the same kind:
The problem is we're all so busy right now with conferences and what have you.
or what? SPOKEN
used at the end of a question when you are impatient to find out what is really happening:
Do you want to go down to the mall now, or what?
Is this guy stupid, or what?
so what?/what of it ? SPOKEN
used for showing someone that you think a particular fact they have mentioned is not important:
But they're living together and they aren't married. Well, what of it?
She didn't invite us to the party. So what? I don't care.
what about...? SPOKEN
1. ) used for making a suggestion:
What about a quick cup of coffee?
When do you want to meet? What about Tuesday afternoon?
2. ) used for reminding someone that a particular person or thing needs to be considered:
What about Eileen? Shouldn't we invite her too?
What about transportation? That's all arranged.
what does it matter?/what does someone care? MAINLY SPOKEN
used for showing that something is not important to you or someone else:
Of course, some people will criticize you, but what does it matter?
To hell with politics! What do I care about politics?
what for SPOKEN
1. ) used for asking the reason for something:
I need to have your name and address. What for?
what...for: What did you hit him for?
2. ) INFORMAL OLD-FASHIONED if you give someone what for, you punish them:
If I catch that boy in my garden again, I'll give him what for.
what if...? MAINLY SPOKEN
1. ) used for asking what would happen in a particular situation, especially an unpleasant situation:
What if something goes wrong?
It sounds like a good offer, but what if it's a trick?
2. ) used when you are making a helpful suggestion:
What if I lend you the money? Wouldn't that make everything a lot simpler?
3. ) used for showing that you think something is not important:
Well, what if she's young as long as she's qualified to do the job.
what now?/now what? SPOKEN
used for asking what should be done next
what's more SPOKEN
used for introducing an additional statement that supports what you have already said:
Chrysanthemums are such beautiful flowers, and what's more they are very easy to grow.
what's (up) with someone? AMERICAN SPOKEN
used for asking why someone is behaving in a strange way:
What's up with David? Is he drunk or something?
what's (up) with something? SPOKEN
used for asking someone for an explanation about something:
What's with this bill? I don't owe you any money.
what's what SPOKEN
the important facts that you should understand about a situation:
know what's what: He's worked in the insurance business all his life, so he knows what's what.
what with SPOKEN
used when you are giving a number of reasons for a particular situation or problem:
The police are having a difficult time, what with all the drugs and violence on our streets.
you what? BRITISH SPOKEN
used for asking someone to repeat what they have just said. This is not a polite expression. It is better to say pardon.

Usage of the words and phrases in modern English. 2013.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

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