what

what
W1S1 [wɔt US wa:t, wʌt] pron, determiner, predeterminer
[: Old English; Origin: hwAt]
1.) used to ask for information or for someone's opinion
What are you doing?
What subjects did you enjoy most?
What colour is the new carpet?
What's your new boss like?
What do you think of my painting?
What do you mean, you want to spend Christmas alone?
what on earth/in the world/in heaven's name etc
(=used for emphasis when you are surprised, angry etc)
What on earth's going on?
2.) used to introduce a ↑clause about something that is or was not known or not certain
No one knows exactly what happened.
It is not clear to what extent these views were shared.
what to do/say/expect etc
They're discussing what to do next.
3.) the thing which
Show me what you bought.
I believe what he told me.
I could get you a job here if that's what you want.
What he did was morally wrong.
She gave him what money she had (=all the money she had, although she did not have much) .
4.) used at the beginning of a statement to emphasize what you are going to say
What that kid needs is some love and affection.
What we'll do is leave a note for Mum to tell her we won't be back till late.
What matters is the British people and British jobs.
5.) spoken what?
a) used to ask someone to repeat something they have just said because you did not hear it properly
'Could you turn the music down a bit?' 'What?'
b) used when you have heard someone calling to you and you are asking them what they want
'Elaine!' 'What?' 'Come on!'
c) used to show that you are surprised or shocked by something that someone has just said
'I think I've lost my passport.' 'What?'
6.) spoken used at the beginning of a sentence to emphasize that you think something or someone is very good, very bad etc
What a lovely day!
What a horrible thing to do!
What nice people they are!
7.) spoken used to ask someone to complete a name when they have only given you the first part of it
'Do you know his name?' 'It's David.' 'David what?'
8.) spoken what about ...?
a) used to make a suggestion
What about dinner at my place next week?
what about doing sth
What about going to a movie?
b) also what of ...? formal
used to introduce a new subject into a conversation, or to mention something or someone else that also needs to be considered
What about Patrick? What's he doing nowadays?
What about me? Aren't I coming too?
So that's the food - now what about the wine?
And what of her other job? How is that progressing?
9.) spoken what (...) for?
a) used to ask why someone does something
'She's decided to work part-time.' 'What for?'
What did you do that for?
b) used to ask what purpose or use something has
What's this gadget for?
10.) spoken used to give yourself time to think before guessing a number or amount
You're looking at, what, about £4000 for a decent second-hand car.
11.) spoken what's his/her/its name also what d'you call him/her/it
used when talking about a person or thing whose name you cannot immediately remember
The hospital have just got a, what d'you call it, er... a scanner.
Is what's his name still working there?
12.) spoken (and) what's more
used when adding information that emphasizes what you are saying
Gas is a very efficient fuel. And what's more, it's clean.
13.) spoken what's what
the real facts about a situation that are important to know
She's been working here long enough to know what's what.
14.) spoken what's it to you?
used to tell someone angrily that something does not concern them
That's right, I didn't pass. What's it to you, anyway?
'How did he die?' Suddenly Emily was angry. 'What's it to you?'
15.) spoken ... or what
a) used at the end of a question to show that you are impatient with someone or something
Are you afraid of him, or what?
Is that work going to be finished by Friday, or what?
b) used after mentioning one or more possibilities to show that you are not certain about something
I don't know whether it was an accident or on purpose or what.
c) used after a description of someone or something to emphasize it
Nearby are the remains of a deserted village. Spooky or what?
Is that madness or what?
16.) spoken so what? also what of it?
used to say that you do not care about something or think it is important
'Your room looks a real mess, Tracey.' 'So what?'
'But, Paul, she's so much older than you?' 'What of it?'
17.) spoken you what?
a) BrE used to ask someone to repeat something they have just said. It is more polite to say ↑pardon
'I want to tell you something.' 'You what? I can't hear what you're saying.'
b) used to show that you are surprised
'So I resigned.' 'You what?'
18.) spoken what if...?
a) used to ask what you should do or what the result will be if something happens, especially something unpleasant
What if this plan of yours fails, what then?
'What if it rains tomorrow?' 'We'll just have to postpone it.'
b) used to make a suggestion
What if we moved the sofa over here? Would that look better?
19.) spoken ...and what have you
used at the end of a list of things to mean other things of a similar kind
The shelves were crammed with books, documents, and what have you.
20.) spoken what with sth
used to introduce a list of reasons that have made something happen or made someone feel in a particular way
She couldn't get to sleep, what with all the shooting and shouting.
21.) spoken what's with sb?
AmE used to ask why a person or group of people is behaving strangely
What's with you people?
22.) spoken what's with sth?
AmE used to ask the reason for something
What's with all the sad faces?
23.) spoken now what?
used to ask what is going to happen next, what you should do etc
what does it matter? atmatter2 (3)
what does sb care atcare2 (6)
have what it takes attake1 (4)
I/I'll tell you what attell
guess what atguess1 (6)
▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
HINT sense 1
When there is a limited number of possible things or people, use which: Which leg (NOT what leg) did he break? |It was one of his sisters. I can't remember which (NOT what).
▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

Dictionary of contemporary English. 2013.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • What — What, pron., a., & adv. [AS. hw[ae]t, neuter of hw[=a] who; akin to OS. hwat what, OFries. hwet, D. & LG. wat, G. was, OHG. waz, hwaz, Icel. hvat, Sw. & Dan. hvad, Goth. hwa. [root]182. See {Who}.] [1913 Webster] 1. As an interrogative pronoun,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • What ho — What What, pron., a., & adv. [AS. hw[ae]t, neuter of hw[=a] who; akin to OS. hwat what, OFries. hwet, D. & LG. wat, G. was, OHG. waz, hwaz, Icel. hvat, Sw. & Dan. hvad, Goth. hwa. [root]182. See {Who}.] [1913 Webster] 1. As an interrogative… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • What if — What What, pron., a., & adv. [AS. hw[ae]t, neuter of hw[=a] who; akin to OS. hwat what, OFries. hwet, D. & LG. wat, G. was, OHG. waz, hwaz, Icel. hvat, Sw. & Dan. hvad, Goth. hwa. [root]182. See {Who}.] [1913 Webster] 1. As an interrogative… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • What of it — What What, pron., a., & adv. [AS. hw[ae]t, neuter of hw[=a] who; akin to OS. hwat what, OFries. hwet, D. & LG. wat, G. was, OHG. waz, hwaz, Icel. hvat, Sw. & Dan. hvad, Goth. hwa. [root]182. See {Who}.] [1913 Webster] 1. As an interrogative… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • What If? 2 — subtitled Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been , is a collection of twenty five essays dealing with counterfactual history. It was published by G.P. Putnam s Sons in 2001, ISBN 0 399 14795 0, and edited by Robert Cowley. It is the suc …   Wikipedia

  • What If — What if? is a question that often is used in the context of:* Counterfactual history * Alternate history (fiction) * UchroniaWhat If may refer to:In literature: * What If? (magazine), a Canadian teen magazine * What If , a fantasy short story by… …   Wikipedia

  • What — or WHAT may refer to: What, an interrogative pronoun in English What? , one of the Five Ws used in journalism Web Hypertext Application Technology, a group of people interested in evolving HTML and related technologies Winter Haven Area Transit,… …   Wikipedia

  • What's up? — may refer to:* An informal or casual greeting; see * What s Up (song), a song by the 4 Non Blondes * Whats Up Magazine, a Boston, Massachusetts street newspaper * Whassup?, an advertising campaign for Budweiser brand beeree also* What s Up Doc?… …   Wikipedia

  • What — What, interrog. adv. Why? For what purpose? On what account? [Obs.] [1913 Webster] What should I tell the answer of the knight. Chaucer. [1913 Webster] But what do I stand reckoning upon advantages and gains lost by the misrule and turbulency of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • What — What, n. Something; thing; stuff. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] And gave him for to feed, Such homely what as serves the simple ?lown. Spenser. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • What'll I Do — is the name of a song written by Irving Berlin in 1923. It was introduced by singers Grace Moore and John Steel Second Hand Songs Artist: Irving Berlin (list), SecondHandSongs.com, 2007 03 24, webpage:… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.