Where can you practise the ways we ask questions in emails? Here, of course!

Enquiries

Consider these things when writing questions.

Subject questions

These questions are about the subject of a sentence:

  • Who takes you to school?
  • Where is your favourite place?
  • What annoys you the most?
  • When is convenient?

Do not add the auxiliary verb 'do' ('do', 'does', 'did'): Who takes you ...? not Who does take you ...?

Yes/no questions

These questions usually only need a short answer like 'yes'/'yes, of course' or 'no'/ 'no, I'm sorry'.

  • Are you ready?
  • Is that convenient?
  • Do you remember me?
  • Can you send me the report, please?

Use the auxiliary verb before the subject: Do you remember ...? not You do remember ...?

Object questions

These questions are about the object of a sentence:

  • Where do you want to meet?
  • Who did you invite to the meeting?
  • Why couldn't you go?
  • How much is this going to cost?

Remember to use an auxiliary verb ('do', 'did', 'have', 'can', etc.): Where do you want to meet? not Where you want to meet?

'Let me know'

When you ask about something in an email, you can use this phrase. It shows that you want to get an answer.

  • Are you coming to the party on Saturday? Could you let me know? Thanks…
  • I would like to attend the training next Tuesday. Please can you let me know the start time?

Task 1

Task 2

Choose the correct preposition for the gaps in the email below.

From: Raj (raj.kumar@stancliffschool.org.uk)
To: Victor Obinna (Victor1997@yesmail.ng)
Subject: RE: pictures from my school

Hello Victor,

Thanks for sending me the pictures of your school and your friends. My school in England is very different! I want to ask you about your school. Here are my questions.

  1. I play cricket in the school team. What sports are you good (1) in / with / at?
  2. I hate maths but I love English. What subjects are you interested (2) in / to / on?
  3. In IT, we're learning how to make a website. At your school, what are you learning (3) about / on / at?
  4. My brother and I walk to school together every day. Who do you go to school (4) to / from / with?
  5. My flat is by a road with lots of cars. What is your home (5) next to / out of / away from?

Can you let me know?

Bye for now! Raj

Exercise

Task 3

Task 4

Download

Language level

Intermediate: B1
Pre-intermediate: A2

Comments

Hello Raquel,

The question 'When is convenient (for you)?' is unusual, isn't it? You are correct that you can also say 'When is it convenient (for you)?'

The reason we can say this without 'it' is that 'when' here means 'what time'. When we use 'what time' in this kind of sentence it is generally the subject of the sentence:

What time is good?

What time is best for you?

In the question 'Is that convenient?', we can also use 'it' or a noun:

Is that convenient?

It is convenient?

It the time convenient?

Is the location convenient?

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks, Peter. Now I understand the reason!

Hi Team.
1. What time the meeting does start tomorrow?
2. What time does the meeting start tomorrow?
Which one is correct?
Thanks.

Hi Mizam Balinese,

The second sentence is correct. You need to use inversion to form the question here, so the auxiliary verb 'does' comes before the subject ('the meeting').

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear LearnEnglish Team,
What is the difference between can and could? For example, Could you let me know the start time? vs Can you let me know the start time? Is could more polite?
Yours sincerely,
Dina

Hello Dina,

In that example the difference is politeness, as you say: 'could' is more tentative and 'can' more direct.

We actually have a page on this very topic. You can find it here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for the link, Peter!
I haven't seen this page before.

Good excercises

Sir, why should I not use auxiliary verbs in subject questions?

Hello navalinda,

There are reasons for this in the history of the development of English, but I'm afraid I'm not enough of an expert in that area to explain them – nor is this really our purpose here at LearnEnglish, where we focus on how English is spoken today.

I'd encourage you to just try to remember as best you can that when the question word refers to the subject of the verb, no auxiliary verb is used. This is explained a bit more on our Question forms & subject/object questions page if you'd like to understand it a bit better and/or practise it some more.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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