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Question Text

What is a question?

A question is a request for information.

A question should always end with a question mark (?).


Closed questions

Closed questions demand a yes/no, true/false or right/wrong answer.

When we want to ask yes/no questions we can use do/does, am/is/are or have/has as question words. We use do or have or am with personal pronouns (I), we use does or has or is with third person singular pronouns (he, she, it) and with singular noun forms. We use do or have or are with other personal pronouns (you, we they) and with plural noun forms.

Yes/no questions with the verb be are created by moving the verb be to the beginning of the sentence. In other words the subject and the verb change their positions in statements and questions.

Statement:
I am from England.
Question:
Am I from England?

When forming questions in the present continuous tense use the verb be.

I am speaking English.
=
Am
I
speaking English?
You are speaking English.
=
Are
you
speaking English?
He is speaking English.
=
Is
he
speaking English?
She is speaking English.
=
Is
she
speaking English?
It is speaking English.
=
Is
it
speaking English?
We are speaking English.
=
Are
we
speaking English?
They are speaking English.
=
Are
they
speaking English?

When forming questions in the present simple tense use the verb be, do, or have. The auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

To Be

If there is one verb in the statement and the verb is a form of be , simply switch the positions of the subject and verb.

I am English.
=
Am I English?
You are English.
=
Are you English?
He is English.
=
Is he English?
She is English.
=
Is she English?
It is English.
=
Is it English?
We are English.
=
Are we English?
They are English.
=

Are

they English?
To Do

If there is one verb in the statement and the verb is do, simply switch the positions of the subject and verb.

I
do.
=
Do
I?
You do.
=
Do
you?
He does.
=
Does
he?
She does.
=
Does
she?
It does.
=
Does
it?
We do.
=
Do
we?
They do.
=
Do
they?
To Have

If there is one verb in the statement and the verb is have, (with or without got to show possession), switch the positions of the subject and verb.

I
have
(got) an English book.
=
Have
I
(got) an English book?
You
have
(got) an English book
=
Have
you
(got) an English book?
He
has
(got) an English book
=
Has
he
(got) an English book?
She
has
(got) an English book
=
Has
she
(got) an English book?
It
has
(got) an English book
=
Has
it
(got) an English book?
We
have
(got) an English book
=
Have
we
(got) an English book?
They
have
(got) an English book
=
Have
they
(got) an English book?

We can also form this style of question with Do…have…? here there is no subject-verb inversion, do is placed before the subject.

I
have breakfast every morning.
=
Do
I
have breakfast every morning?
You
have breakfast every morning.
=
Do
you
have breakfast every morning?
He
has breakfast every morning.
=
Does
he
have breakfast every morning?
She
has breakfast every morning.
=
Does
she
have breakfast every morning?
It
has breakfast every morning.
=
Does
it
have breakfast every morning?
We
have breakfast every morning.
=
Do
we
have breakfast every morning?
They
have breakfast every morning.
=
Do
they
have breakfast every morning?

If there is one verb, and the verb is not a form of be, the process is more complex. To form a question add the correct form of the verb 'to do' to the beginning. Here there is no subject verb inversion.

I
speak English.
=
Do
I
speak English?
You speak English.
=
Do
you
speak English?
He speaks English.
=
Does
he
speak English?
She speaks English.
=
Does
she
speak English?
It speaks English.
=
Does
it
speak English?
We speak English.
=
Do
we
speak English?
They speak English.
=
Do
they
speak English?
Answering a Closed Question

For example: "Are you from England?"

You can answer closed questions with "Yes" or "No".

You can also answer closed questions with a slightly longer answer "Yes, I am." or "No, I'm not."

Finally you can answer closed questions in the long form "Yes, I am from England." or "No, I'm not from England."


Open Questions

Open questions leave room for a description or opinion, and are more useful in eliciting information

Open questions are often called Wh.. questions:-

There are eight wh-questions - what, when, where, which, who, whom, whose and why and to this list we usually add how as they are all used to elicit particular kinds of information.

You use what when you are asking for information about something.
You use when to ask about the time that something happened or will happen.
You use where to ask questions about place or position.
You use which when you are asking for information about one of a limited number of things.
You use who or whom when you are asking about someone's identity.
You use whose to ask about possession.
You use why to ask for a reason.
You use how to ask about the way in which something is done.

Question word Verb + Answer
What is your name? My name is Lynne.
When is the party? The party is on Tuesday.
Where are you from? I'm from England.
Which is your car? The red car is mine.
Who are you? I'm Lynne.
Whose is this web site? It's mine.
Why is this web site here? Because it is!
How are you? I'm fine thanks.

What, which and whose can be used with or without a noun as a question word.

For example:-

What time is it? = What is the time?
Which car is yours? = Which is your car?
Whose web site is this? = Whose is this web site?
free learn english

Whom can only be used to elicit information about the object of the sentence. Although using whom would be grammatically correct, we normally use who instead because it doesn’t sound so formal.

For example:-

"Whom did you see?" would normally be expressed as "Who did you see?"

Who, what, which and whose can all be used to elicit information about the subject or object of the sentence.

For example:-

If the answer is "I ate the banana." the object question would be "What did you eat?" and the subject question would be "Who ate the banana?"

Object Questions

Object questions ask about the object of a sentence. The word order of the question must be changed and the question requires the use of the auxiliary verb 'to do'.

For example:-

If the answer is "I caught the train to London." the question would be "Which train did you catch?"
If the answer is "I saw a film yesterday." the question would be "What did you do yesterday?"

Subject Questions

There are also subject questions. These are questions that we ask to find out about the subject. When what, which, who or whose refers to the subject, the question word comes before the verb without the use of the auxiliary verb.

For example:-

If the answer is "The train to London was late." the question would be "Which train was late?"
If the answer is "I won the race." the question would be "Who won the race?"

More examples:-

Object questions:-
What did you do today?
Which film did you like best?
Who did I phone?

Subject questions:-
What happened today?
Which film is best?
Who phoned me?


Tag Questions

What is a tag question?

A tag question is a short question added to the end of a positive or negative statement.

For example:-

He is,
isn't he?
He does,
doesn't he?
He will,
won't he?
He can,
can't he?

 

How are they formed?

Normally a positive statement is followed by a negative tag, and a negative statement is followed by a positive tag.

For example:-

+ -
You're English,
aren't you?
- +
You're not German,
are you?

!The statement and the tag are always separated by a comma.

The verb in the statement should be the same tense as the verb in the tag.

For example:-

Present tense present tense
You are a good singer, aren't you?
Past tense past tense
You didn't go to work yesterday, did you?
Present perfect tense present perfect tense
You have been to London, haven't you?

 

If the verb used in the statement is an auxiliary verb, then the verb used in the tag must match it. If a modal (can, could, will, should, etc.) is used in the statement, then the same modal is used in the tag part. If the statement doesn't use an auxilliary verb, then the auxiliary do is used in the tag part.

For example:-

Auxiliary verb  
She is from England, isn't she?
They aren't very nice, are they?
She doesn't like it here, does she?
Modal verb  
You can sing, can't you?
They shouldn't do that, should they?
No auxiliary  
He eats meat, doesn't he?

 

Why do we use them?

Tag questions are used to verify or check information that we think is true or to check information that we aren't sure is true. Sometimes we just use them for effect.

We show the meaning of the tag question through intonation.

 
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