There are several different ways of forming questions in English. All of them end with a question mark. The form of them depends on what it is you would like to express.
1. Closed Questions.
We use closed questions when we want a yes or no answer.
We form these by moving the verb to be to the beginning of the sentence, or with the auxiliary verbs do/does or has/have. (Remember: we will never use question words in closed questions).
- When moving the verb to be, we can change a statement into a question.
(verb to be + subject + object)
|Statement: I am from France. Question: Am I from France?|
- If you are using the present simple, then use be (if the main verb is the verb to be), do (when the main verb is any other verb different from to be / to have) or have (when the main verb is the verb to have), as auxiliary verbs. The auxiliary verb is always placed before the subject.
Statement: I am cold. Question: Am I cold?
Statement: You like carrots. Question: Do you like carrots?
Statement: I have a pen. Question: Have I (got) a pen?
- If you are forming a question in the present continuous, then use this inversion technique:
(verb to be + subject + main verb in the –ing form + object)
|Statement: I am cooking dinner tonight. Question: Am I cooking dinner tonight?|
- We can also form closed questions using Do/does….. have? But note here that there is a change in the verb conjugation in the third person.
Statement: I have breakfast at 9am. Question: Do I have breakfast at 9am?
Statement: He has breakfast at 9am. Question: Does he have breakfast at 9am
-If there is only one verb, and it is not be, then you change the statement to a question by adding do at the beginning.
|Statement: I like olives. Question: Do I like olives?|
2. Open Questions.
Open questions are used when we are requesting an opinion or more information than simply yes or no.
We form these questions using a question word that suits the type of information you are asking.
The word order will be as follows:
Question word + auxiliary verb + subject + main verb + objects.
There are nine main question words: what, when, where, which, who, whom, whose, why and how.
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 ask 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.
Have a look at this chart:
*Whom is a formal word that we tend not to use with much frequency as the same meaning can be expressed with who, this we only use it in written English. We only use whom when a preposition is needed, as in “to who”.
Other question words are: how much, how many, how far, how long, and so on.
You can read appendix I to have an overall view of the form and use of all the question words.
3. Question Tags
Tag questions are mainly found in speech, not written text. They are a short questions on the end of a positive or negative statement as a sort of reassurance. A positive question will follow a negative statement and vice versa and they are always separated by a comma.
+ You’re from Greece, aren’t you? or - You’re not from Greece, are you?
The tense of the statement also dictates the tense of the tag.
Look at these examples:
If the verb used in the statement is an auxiliary verb, then the tag will match it. If a modal verb is used in the statement, the same thing applies. However if there isn’t an auxiliary or modal verb in the statement, we add do in the tag.
Look at these examples:
Complete these questions with the appropriate word in the space.
1. _________ are you doing in the garden?
2. _______ you like fish? I do!
3. You________ pass me the salt, can you?
4. ________are you coming to visit?
5. He likes chocolate, _______ he?
6. _______is my cell phone?
7. It isn’t cold today, _____it?
8. ________you seen my pen?
9. _____old are you?
Write the questions to these answers.
1. We’re going to see the Rocky Horror picture show. Do you want to come?
2. It’s playing at the Majestic theatre.
3. They’re showing it for Halloween.
4. Yes I’m going to wear my witch costume.
5. Yes I just handed it in. I just wrote 500 words in the last three hours.
6. I wrote about the state of the economy in Europe.
7. I think so; I did a lot of research, so I’m quite confident.
8. Of course you’ll get a good mark! Don’t worry about it.
9. Yes I have. I’m a bit nervous about getting this job.
10. Yes I added my last job to it last night.
11. The position is head of marketing.
12. Yes I have been doing this line of work for three years now.
13. Yes I was; what’s wrong with this suit?
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