Definition of interrogative in English:



  • 1Having the force of a question.

    ‘a hard, interrogative stare’
    • ‘It is manifested in his troubled, interrogative attitude towards war, his awareness that science unbridled by compassion is folly, and the relentless desire for knowledge a pathology.’
    • ‘People in the book often feel like interrogative bodies exploring the outer limits of their own emotions and thoughts as well as the expanse beyond.’
    • ‘While some scholars argue for re-enactment's interrogative possibilities, these possibilities tend to be circumscribed.’
    • ‘It presets the bounds of inquiry, cramps the interrogative space, and derails the track switching (from field to analysis and back again) that earmarks ethnographic work.’
    • ‘Both dissident reading and the resistant readings which we will look at later are interrogative discourses which recognize and work within the staple ingredients of imperial narrative.’
    • ‘In the soliloquy above he engages in a brilliant radical gloss on conventional thinking, through a series of interrogative puns, and abrasive appropriations of the conventional language of society.’
    • ‘This law is probably unique in the annals of democratic legislation and, should it pass, there is every reason to believe that torture will quickly regain its status as the interrogative method of choice.’
    • ‘The possibility also exists that the interrogative techniques used by detectives may have improperly influenced Jeffrey's recollection of the events.’
    • ‘Stevens paused again, changing the sound of his voice to an interrogative tone.’
    • ‘But a fair number of people leave out the question marks (for example here, here, and here), which suggests that the interrogative force isn't obvious.’
    • ‘Williams has a comparable interrogative edge, a sense of the difficulty of doing justice to the complexity and sheer intractability of reality, and of the unavoidability of tragedy, conflict and fragmentariness.’
    • ‘Is part of your argument that whatever the expression ‘the course of questioning’ means, it must involve some activity on the part of the police of an interrogative nature?’
    • ‘All the suggestibility scores were highly elevated and indicate that he tends to give in very readily to leading questions and interrogative pressure.’
    • ‘When the member reads the legislation he will find out that the process inside the first hearing of either setting up their allocation plan or making the decisions is one that is more interrogative than adversarial.’
    • ‘The interrogative mood questions the listeners.’
    • ‘But most companies feel this is cheating, and in any case why deny someone from personnel the chance to sit on a board for a day, eating biscuits and displaying all the interrogative skills of a turnip.’
    • ‘Understanding these fundamental questions is critical to understanding interrogative cell signaling.’
    • ‘Whatever the reason, I'll be wishing him well because, in our adversarial, interrogative culture, there's still a place for Parkinson's gentlemanly, self-effacing approach.’
    • ‘In other instances, contact with NPCs is unavoidable, as there are some who hold vital information, such as door codes, which can be coaxed out of them by interrogative means.’
    • ‘Of course, the defence power supports that in a way which perhaps does not raise the interrogative qualities of capital issues or the like which cause one to have pause for thought.’
    questioning, enquiring, inquisitive, inquisitorial, probing, searching, quizzing, quizzical, curious, intrigued, investigative
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Grammar Used in questions.
      ‘an interrogative adverb’
      Contrasted with affirmative and negative
      • ‘It was a spontaneous, unrehearsed, utterance of a closed interrogative clause with a complex subject containing an auxiliary.’
      • ‘In Spanish, they take the same form as the interrogative pronouns, although only a few of the pronouns can be used as adjectives.’
      • ‘While you're wrestling with the interrogative particles of Mandarin you could, for example, reflect on the fact that Scotland is on its way to becoming the greatest small country in the world.’
      • ‘In addition, accusative case on who does not typically survive when the word is shunted to the beginning of an interrogative or relative clause.’
      • ‘The declension of the adjective interrogative pronoun is like that of the relative one.’


  • 1A word used in questions, such as how or what.

    • ‘Therefore, S2s must focus on the enemy timeline and the five basic interrogatives for each enemy set.’
    • ‘She couldn't seem to find the proper interrogative, what, why and how all seemed appropriate.’
    • ‘The S2 must answer the five basic interrogatives - who, what, where, when, and most importantly, why.’
    • ‘But imperatives, interrogatives and declaratives are grammatical forms, while demanding action or requesting or giving information are semantic roles.’
    1. 1.1 A construction that has the force of a question.
      ‘interrogatives are not likely to crop up very often in the speech of a person who is being interviewed’
      • ‘In my last post on the subject, I admitted that I could accept subject-drop in a noninverted declarative, but not in a noninverted interrogative.’
      • ‘My previous post cited two examples that provide crucial evidence of the right sort, but those were open interrogatives - how-questions, in fact (sentences like How radical are the changes you're having to make?).’
      • ‘This question maintains its relentless interrogative behind every serious poem written in Ireland since 1972.’
      • ‘The frequent use of interrogatives kept the students' attention and involvement during the classroom discourse.’
      • ‘Regrettably, these yes-or-no interrogatives cloak a series of other ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions.’
      • ‘It raised, in this reviewer's mind, troubling interrogatives about what was happening in terms of gender.’
      • ‘I tried that noise she so often used in her interrogatives and she chittered a bit.’
      • ‘That is, he proposes that the rule about making interrogatives by placing the auxiliary before the subject is to some extent a rule of written English rather than spoken.’
      • ‘The types of sentences produced were similar to the ones produced originally and consisted of interrogatives, declaratives, and imperatives.’
      • ‘Here, the character's inner voice provides emotional commentary on movement exclamations and interrogatives, which suggest movement rather than narrate it directly.’
      • ‘Such feelings carry a moral interrogative that points to social and individual wounds and to shared ideas about justice, accountability, and punishment that hold a social fabric together.’
      • ‘It hardly occurs in interrogatives at all (I looked for whom in a couple of months of my recent email, mostly from fellow professors, and I didn't find a single example of it in an interrogative).’
      • ‘‘Are you willing to work’ is a common interrogative thrown at women in St Kilda, no matter what their purpose or destination.’


Early 16th century: from late Latin interrogativus, from Latin interrogare (see interrogate).