Learn English – “What questions are there?” vs. “What are the questions there?”


Imagine this scene: "a non-native student asking another student about the questions in a paper on the table of the teacher". Which is the correct way for asking this between the two questions below:

  1. "Hey man, what questions are there?"
  2. "Hey man, what are the questions there?"

What are the differences between the questions 1 and 2, I mean about meaning and grammar. Are both grammatically correct? If yes, are the meanings the same?

Best Answer

Both expressions are grammatical. The main difference between these two expressions is that the word what in "what questions are there?" is used as a determiner, whilst in "what are the questions there?" it plays the role of a pronoun.

They basically have the same meaning. However, the determiner the in the expression "what are the questions there?" suggests that the asker knows there are questions there but is not sure what they are.

"What are the questions there?"

expected response:

"The questions are ...."

And that is slightly different from using the determiner "what", which suggests that the asker has no knowledge about the subject.

"What questions are there?"

expected response:

"The questions are ...."


"There are no questions."