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Questions and negatives

Level: beginner

Yes/No questions

Yes/No questions are questions which we answer with Yes or No. Look at these statements:

They are working hard.
They will be working hard.
They had worked hard.
They have been working hard.
They might have been working hard.

We make Yes/No questions by putting the first part of the verb in front of the subject:

Are they working hard? 
Will they be working hard?
Had they worked hard?
Have they been working hard?
Might they have been working hard?

Yes/No questions 1
Yes/No questions 2


We make negatives by putting not after the first part of the verb:

They are not working hard.
They will not be working hard.
They had not worked hard.
They have not been working hard.
They might not have been working hard.

In spoken English, we often reduce not to n’t:

They aren't working hard.
They won't be working hard.
They hadn't been working hard.
They haven't been working hard.
They mightn't have been working hard.

Negatives 1


Negatives 2


Present simple and past simple questions and negatives

For all verbs except be and have, we use do/does or did to make Yes/No questions in the present simple and past simple:

They work hard. > Do they work hard?
He works hard. Does he work hard?
They worked hard. Did they work hard?

For all verbs except be and have, we use do/does + not or did + not to make negatives in the present simple and past simple:

They work hard. > They do not (don't) work hard
He works hard. > He does not (doesn't) work hard.
They worked hard. > They did not (didn't) work hard.

Here are the question forms and negative forms for be in the present simple and past simple:

Positives Questions Negatives
I am (I'm) Am I? I am not (I'm not)
He is (he's) Is he? He is not (He's not/He isn't)
She is (she's) Is she? She is not (She's not/She isn't)
It is (it's) Is it? It is not (It's not/It isn't)
You are (you're) Are you? You are not (You're not/You aren't)
They are (they're) Are they? They are not (They're not/They aren't)
Positives Questions Negatives
I was Was I? I was not (I wasn't)
He was Was he? He was not (He wasn't)
She was Was she? She was not (She wasn't)
It was Was it? It was not (It wasn't)
You were Were you? You were not (You weren't)
They were Were they? They were not (They weren't)

We make questions and negatives with have in two ways. Usually we use do/does or did:

Do you have plenty of time?
Does she have enough money?
Did they have any useful advice?

don't have much time.
She doesn't have any money.
They didn't have any advice to offer.

but we can also make questions by putting have/has or had in front of the subject:

Have you plenty of time?
Has she enough money?
Had they any useful advice?

and make negatives by putting not or n't after have/has or had:

haven't much time.
She hasn't any money.
He hadn't any advice to offer.

Present simple and past simple questions and negatives 1


Present simple and past simple questions and negatives 2



Wh-questions are questions which start with a word like what, when, where, which, who, whose, why and how.

Question words


Questions with when, where, why

We form wh-questions with these words by putting the question word in front of a Yes/No question:

They are working in a shop. > Where are they working?
They have been working hard for their exams. > Why have they been working hard?
They arrived at six. > When did they arrive?

Questions with who, what, which

When we ask whowhat and which about the object of the verb, we put the question word in front of a Yes/No question:

He is seeing Joe tomorrow. > Who is he seeing tomorrow?
I want a computer for my birthday. > What do you want for your birthday?
I'd prefer some tea. > Which would you prefer, tea or coffee?
Wh-questions 1


When we ask whowhat and which about the subject of the verb, the question word takes the place of the subject:

Barbara gave me the chocolates. > Who gave you the chocolates?
Something funny happened. > What happened?
The dog frightened the children. > Which dog frightened the children?

We sometimes use what or which with a noun:

What subjects did you study at school?
Which English newspaper started in 1986?
What subjects does everyone have to study?
Which newspaper do you prefer, The Times or the Guardian?

Wh-questions 2


Questions with how

We use how for many different questions:

How are you?
How do you make questions in English?
How long have you lived here?
How often do you go to the cinema?
How much is this dress?
How old are you?
How many people came to the meeting?

Questions with how 1


Questions with how 2


Questions with verbs and prepositions

When we have a question with a verb and a preposition, the preposition usually comes at the end of the question:

gave the money to my brother. > Who did you give the money to?
She comes from Madrid. > Where does she come from?​​​
They were waiting for an hour. > How long were they waiting for?
Questions with verbs and prepositions 1


Questions with verbs and prepositions 2


Level: intermediate

Other ways of asking questions

We sometimes use phrases like these in front of a statement to ask questions:

Do you know …?    
I wonder …    
Can you tell me …?

For Yes/No questions, we use the phrases with if:

This is the right house. > Do you know if this is the right house?
Everyone will agree. > I wonder if everyone will agree.
Mr Brown lives here. > Can you tell me if Mr Brown lives here?

For wh-questions, we use the phrases with a question word:

Do you know who lives here?
I wonder how much this dress is.
Can you tell me where she comes from?

We often use do you think …? after question words:

How much do you think this dress is?
Where do you think she comes from?
Who do you think lives here?

Indirect questions 1


Indirect questions 2


Negatives with the to-infinitive

 When we make a negative with the to-infinitive, we put not in front of the to-infinitive:

He told us not to make so much noise.
We were asked not to park in front of the house.


Hello Sash,

Yes, that sentence is correct and makes sense. A more informal way of saying 'compensate' is 'pay for', e.g. '... I'm paying for not developing ...', but what you suggest is perfectly correct.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

We noticed that we would never reach a conclusion by our parallel arguments .
Could you please tell me if this sentence is grammatically correct?!

Hello Sash,

It is indeed grammatically correct. I don't completely understand it, but I expect the context makes the meaning clearer.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

hello LearnEnglish Team,

I'm to learn English on my own, I have already done a placement test at British council Algeria, And I had the A2 level, Could you help me set up a study plan to continue in this way ?

Best wishes,

Hello Abdelmadjid,

I'm afraid LearnEnglish is not a course and we don't provide study plans. LearnEnglish is a collection of materials for self-study which are open-access to all users. The team here deals with the maintenance of the site and, when possible, with questions from users on topics related to our materials, but we don't provide lessons or a course as such.

You can find materials by level by using the search facility. Just type in the level you are interested in. For example, you can find materials for A2 level here and for B1 level here.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi English Team,
I'm a Self-learner, so I have learned English mostly through reading/writing/listening and never have any formal English class. Thus sometimes I get confused with some English constructs like between the Present Perfect and other Past Forms. I also have problems with questions using Did and Have. They often "sound" both correct to "my ears" like:
- Did you meet him? and
- Have you met him?

But now through your page, I deducted that when I form the "normal"/non-question sentences, I can determine which one is correct or would be better to use. For the above examples, if I intend to ask if my friend just met the third person (not long ago), I should use the past simple question "Did you meet him". But if I intend to ask whether my friend has ever met/knew the third person, I should use the second form. Is that correct?
And otherwise, do you have any suggestion to tackle my English problems more effectively?

Thanks for the awesome website and patiently answering reader's questions.

BTW: IMO the test is not very helpful because the first word was always properly capitalised thus giving the reader a too obvious clue.

Hello sinuhe69,

Yes, it sounds like you understand that correctly. The difference between the past simple ('did you meet') and present perfect ('have you met') is explained on our talking about the past page and the videos on this and this Word on the Street pages if you want to practise them a bit more.

If you've learned all this just from studying on your own, I'd encourage you to continue with the method you're using, as it seems to be working!

Thanks for your comment about the exercise. You're right of course, but we feel that capitalisation is important enough that it should be that way.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I'm new on the form, I'm enjoying my experience already. I can speak fluently but my biggest wickness is to write and read. I can read silently and understand .But in the class I get nervous and tend not to read well . I'm now focussing on my grammar and vocabulary . How can I improve in these two areas?

Hello Meque,

Welcome! There's some general advice on improving different aspects of English on our Frequently asked questions page. Many people find that reading a text out loud in class makes it more difficult to understand. I'd recommend asking your teacher for help with this skill, as it is one that's difficult to advise you about without knowing you. But you might want to read the texts silently to yourself after class so that you understand them better.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

hello, how can i start learning english.