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Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here



 
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Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here #1 (permalink) Mon Apr 24, 2006 14:57 pm   Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here
 

English Grammar Tests, Elementary Level

ESL/EFL Test #93 "Why Questions", question 6

......... year did Prince Charles of England marry?

(a) What
(b) Which
(c) Where
(d) Who

English Grammar Tests, Elementary Level

ESL/EFL Test #93 "Why Questions", answer 6

What year did Prince Charles of England marry?

Correct answer: (a) What

Your answer was: incorrect
Which year did Prince Charles of England marry?
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Dear Sir

Would you please explain why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here?

thanks a lot in advance

Stone
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Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here #2 (permalink) Tue Apr 25, 2006 13:38 pm   Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here
 

.
We expect to use what in this question because, for the average reader, there is a wide range of years as possible answers. I myself have no idea as to what decade saw his marriage!

Which is normally reserved for the cases of two only or a very limited number of choices:

What time is it?
Which time is better for you, 2:30 or 3:30?

.
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Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here #3 (permalink) Tue Dec 07, 2010 19:55 pm   Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here
 

it should be which why, what?
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Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here #4 (permalink) Tue Dec 07, 2010 23:48 pm   Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here
 

What.
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Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here #5 (permalink) Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:50 am   Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here
 

To be able to use 'which' in the test question, the sentence would need to begin with 'in'.
'In which year did...'
As it doesn't, then 'what' is the only correct alternative.
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Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here #6 (permalink) Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:52 am   Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here
 

Hmm.
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Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here #7 (permalink) Wed Dec 08, 2010 8:46 am   Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here
 

You are (of course) right to be dubious of my answer, MM.

Strictly speaking, even with 'In which year' there would need to be a limited choice ('In which year out of the following...). However, I suspected that this is what was in the OPs mind and given that many native speakers would accept 'in which' without question, it was my clumsy attempt to explain why it couldn't be used here, even if you ignore the rule of choice of years.
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Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here #8 (permalink) Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:47 am   Why not use 'which' instead of 'what' here
 

Listen to this voice message 194 Listened
Hi,

There's a long running UK radio programme called 'Desert island discs' where a well known person is supposedly marooned on a desert island and may choose the 8 discs they would take with them. Two questions are always asked: Which of the 8 discs would you hate to lose on your desert island? They can then take a favourite book and are asked: What book would you like to take? They can choose whatever they like.

Alan
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