The term "wh-question" seems transparent enough for English speakers, but reeks of English language chauvinism. I have heard such questions referred to as "information questions," "content questions, and "question-word questions," but I don't know what synonym or synonymous phrase for "wh-question" is most commonly used among professional linguists these days. I haven't been able to find an answer to my question.

Since my hobby is writing reference grammars for imaginary languages, an answer to this question will be useful for me.

  • 5
    When I was (until 10 years ago) a lecturer at a university English department, "wh-question" was the common term; but that was in Britain, and an English department, so no qualms about chauvinism there. In German they are similarly called "W-Fragen", because the respective question words all start with 'w'. Dec 9, 2022 at 8:46
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    I don't think I've heard any other term in linguistics but you could use "interrogative question" as a synonym. Dec 9, 2022 at 18:13
  • As far as I know, wh-questions are special questions while yes/no ones are general questions.
    – Yellow Sky
    Dec 14, 2022 at 23:46

3 Answers 3


“Content question” is common. I’ve seen that used in typologically oriented grammars of languages from all over the world.

I’ve also seen non-polarity question, though I like that option less.

  • Thanks, could you link to anything for both terms, like part of a Wikipedia page? Dec 11, 2022 at 1:16

Insofar as "yes-no" question has been replaced with "polar question", the alternative of "non-polar" question seems most reasonable.


In the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (which I think is considered the authoritative grammar to date) they’re called “open interrogatives” (yes-no questions are called “closed interrogatives”) and are one of the five types of clauses in English.

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