Asking Questions in English
this lesson, you will learn about asking questions in English.
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We ask questions to get information.
There are two types of questions in the English language: direct
are used to try to get information.
When we write a direct
, we always end the sentence with a question
( ? ). The question mark signals to the reader that the
is a question.
- Where is the bathroom?
- Do you want to drink water?
- When will she be here?
- What is your name?
- Your name is Mike, isn't it?
- How do you open this door?
are also used to try to get information, but are a polite
and longer form of direct questions. They are sometimes said as a
statement and written with a period instead of a question mark.
- Mom wants to know if you are hungry.
- Could you tell me where the bathroom is, please?
- Do you know what her name is?
- I was wondering if you knew the population of this city.
- Can you tell me where you live?
Asking questions in English –
There are four main categories of direct questions, depending on the
kind of answer you expect: Yes/No
questions and tag questions.
1. Yes/No questions
To form a direct questions with a yes or no answer, we use auxiliary
, which are also called helping verbs.
(or helping) verb
is a verb that is used together with
another verb to express the action or state.
Main verb + auxiliary verb =
For example: is + working = is working = the
full idea of the verb
Incorrect: Lisa working now.
Correct: Lisa is
In questions, the auxiliary verb is placed before the
subject of a sentence.
These are a few common auxiliary
A Yes/No question is written in this form:
Auxiliary verb +
+ main verb
Let's practice making
Yes/No questions from these sentences:
- Did Sarah sleep?
- Do you cook?
- Was she running?
- Have you seen
- You like chocolate.
- She likes her gift.
- Young children like to swim.
- Richard wants to go to the park.
- It works.
To make these sentences into questions, we need to add the auxiliary
before the subject.
is used if the subject
is he, she
. In all other
- Do you like chocolate?
- Does she like her gift?
- Do young children
like to swim?
- Does Richard want to go
to the park?
The subject of this question is Richard. Richard is a he so we
- Does it work?
The verb like
always goes after the subject of the question. Do not add
an 's' to the word like.
Do you likes
Does she like
Does she likes
If the sentence is in past
form (it already happened), use the
auxiliary verb did
Did is the past form of do
The verb like
change when the
question is in past tense form.
Did you liked
Did she liked
We can also ask direct questions using the auxiliary verbs can
Let's practice by making questions from the four sentences below using
- She can read the book.
- The boy can throw the ball.
- She is a good artist.
- Lisa is a great cook.
We can turn these sentences into yes/no questions like this:
- Can she read the book?
- Can the boy throw the
- Is she a good artist?
- Is Lisa a great cook?
2. WH Questions
allow a wide range of answers. These types of
begin with question words such as:
Use an auxiliary
or helping, verb after the WH
Do not use an auxiliary verb
after who, which or what if they are the
subject of the sentence.
- Where is
- What is
- Who is
the man next to you?
- Why did
she leave so early?
- How are
you feeling today?
- Who called you?
- Which man is your
day is the party?
3. Alternative Questions
Alternative questions are another type of direct questions
Alternative questions require an answer chosen from the options given
in the question. These types of questions always contain the connecting
- Do you like the ocean or the mountains?
- Will you be driving your car or riding the bus?
- Would you like to eat pizza or
- Did you buy the blue ball or
the red ball?
4. Tag Questions
is a statement followed by a short question. Tag questions are very
common in the English language and are used to ask if you agree with
Tag questions are written in this form:
statement + tag + ?
- You like hamburgers, don't
- She has brown hair, doesn't
- Her name is Rose, isn't
- This is a pig, right?
Asking questions in English –
Indirect questions are also used to try to get information. However, we
indirect questions if we want to ask a more personal or formal
Indirect questions are more
than direct questions.
Indirect questions can start with introductory phrases such as these:
- Can you tell me . . .
- Could you tell me . . .
- I would be interested to hear . . .
- I would like to know . . .
- Would you mind telling me . . .
- I wonder . . .
When forming an indirect question, use an introductory phrase followed
. Then add the
subject and the rest of the
+ question word
(WH word, about or if)
You do not
need to use an auxiliary verb.
Where is the bathroom? => Can you
tell me where the
tell me where is
When does the next bus arrive? => Do you know when the next
Do you know when does
next bus arrives?
What is his name? => Would you mind telling me his
Would you mind telling me do
you know his name?
Indirect questions can also be said in the form of a
types of indirect questions are used to try to get information and end
- Do you like chocolate? => I would like to know if
you like chocolate.
- What do you like about your job? => I wonder if you
me what you like about your job.
- Where is your home?
=> I can't remember the address of your home.
These were the ways to form questions in English. Now that you know about asking questions in English, it is
time to practice! Read and do