Definition of which in English:

which

interrogative pronoun & determiner

  • Asking for information specifying one or more people or things from a definite set.

    as pronoun ‘which are the best varieties of grapes for long keeping?’
    ‘which of the suspects murdered him?’
    as determiner ‘which way is the wind blowing?’
    • ‘What do you feel about this friend and which of his or her qualities do you see in yourself?’
    which, a fact which, something which
    View synonyms

relative pronoun & determiner

  • Used referring to something previously mentioned when introducing a clause giving further information.

    as pronoun ‘a conference in Vienna which ended on Friday’
    after preposition ‘it was a crisis for which he was totally unprepared’
    as determiner, after preposition ‘your claim ought to succeed, in which case the damages will be substantial’
    • ‘He spent the night in the house of the evil spirit which was no longer able to live there.’
    • ‘So we do not need to step out of the house for days, which I am so looking forward to.’
    • ‘It is often used to refer to a sort of social meeting in which it is pleasant to be together.’
    • ‘The game can also end if the stock runs out of cards, in which case the result is a draw.’
    • ‘There he had a nest over the window of a house in which dwelt the writer of fairy tales.’
    • ‘Cars go out in the first session in the order in which they finished the previous race.’
    • ‘This is not to mention the trauma of fear and terror of the bombing which has no end.’
    • ‘As we took the top out of it I found a huge nest which is what I assume was the magpie house.’
    • ‘It was of average size for a house of the particular period in which it had been built.’
    • ‘They return to spawn in the same stream in which they were born, and die a few days later.’
    • ‘You really must have your own work area which can be cut off from the rest of the house.’

Usage

On the differences between which and that in relative clauses, see that

Phrases

  • which is which

    • Used to convey that it is difficult to distinguish between two or more people or things.

      ‘there is no confusion as to which is which’
      • ‘I'll let you figure out which is which, it's not much of a puzzler.’
      • ‘One is for a gift and one is for a service, but I can never remember which is which.’
      • ‘I'm just having trouble figuring out which is which!’
      • ‘I keep getting them mixed up, and I have to concentrate to remember which is which, and it's annoying.’
      • ‘The interrogator talks to both via a teletype machine, and his goal is to figure out which is which.’
      • ‘By the time you're done mixing it all together, it's hard to tell which is which.’
      • ‘I can, like the animals on the farm, no longer tell which is which.’
      • ‘I can't recall offhand which is which (though you could figure it out.’
      • ‘And that can make it hard to distinguish which is which.’
      • ‘The writers suggest ways to distinguish which is which in any given congregation.’

Origin

Old English hwilc, from the Germanic bases of who and alike.

Pronunciation

which

/wɪtʃ/