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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 can anyone tell me which one is correct and why
Who goes to your apartment? Who did go to your apartment? , and
Who gave Lena this expensive watch? Who did give Lena this expensive watch?
Is there like a rule or something when to use did and when not?

Hello Sash,

I think the correct forms would be:

Who went to your apartment?

Who gave Lena this expensive watch?


These are examples of subject questions. You can find more information on these on this page.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Mr. Peter.


Is there any good way to punctuate the sentences nicely?

Hello maqsoodahmedmagsi,

Your sentence is punctuated correctly. If you have questions about another sentence you're welcome to ask them. The more specific your question, the better we can answer it.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


Just wondering if sentence below is correct:

I can see that in your house rules infant wouldn't be allowed to stay in, is it?

I think the tag question is incorrect. But are there any other mistakes?


Hello Hugong,

I'm afraid we aren't able to correct users' texts, as it requires quite a lot of time on our part, far more than we have available for this sort of thing. But, to try to answer your question, that's correct, the question tag in that sentence is a bit odd (though comprehensible). You could change it to 'right?' and it would work a bit better. In general, my impression is that question tags are probably used most often in simpler sentences, so something like 'According to the House Rules, children aren't allowed, are they?' would be more common. (Note that 'infant' is much more specific than 'children'.)

You can read more about them on our Question tags page.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Hugo,

I just meant that, as far as I can think, question tags tend to be used in simpler questions; I wouldn't say that they are never used in complex questions.

If you can give an example of a sentence you've heard that you don't understand, then we can try to help, but I'm afraid otherwise it's very difficult.

As for linking words, we have one page (in spite of / despite / although) and then I'm sure you can find them mentioned in many of the Elementary Podcasts, but I'm afraid I don't know which ones of the top of my head. You could also look them up in the dictionary to see example sentences or search the internet for 'linking words' to learn more.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Hugo,

I see! I think what you are referring to is 'connected speech' (which is also sometimes called 'reduced speech'). You can hear examples of this in many of our audio and video materials, and I think it might even be covered in an Elementary Podcast (though I'm afraid I don't know which one), but otherwise we don't have a specific page that explains it. I'd recommend you do a little research using the internet – this BBC page might be a good place to start.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again Hugo,

You're welcome! I think the resources you find will explain when and when not to use connected speech, but in general it's used less in formal situations and more in informal situations. Whenever you listen to English, pay special attention to connected speech and the context in which it's used and I think you'll get a sense for when and how it is used.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team