A Q-element is defined by Quirk 1973 as a "clause element [in a question] containing the Q-word. It is a useful concept in the analysis of questions, and the rules for forming them. These are, in wh-questions in direct speech:
- the Q-element comes first in the sentence ("apart from some conjuncts and disjuncts; and
- the Q-word takes first position in the Q-element.