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.

Average: 4.2 (46 votes)

Submitted by Sep80 on Thu, 18/01/2024 - 15:27


Hello The LearnEnglish Team,
Is the sentence "Do no go on the grass" correct? If it is, could you kindly explain how it differs from the sentence "Do not go on the grass"?

Thank you for your assistance.

Hello Sep80,

No, 'do no go' is not correct; the correct negative command form is 'do not go' or 'don't go'.

We generally don't say this and instead say something like 'Stay off the grass'.

Best wishes,
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by howtosay_ on Fri, 24/03/2023 - 03:11



Could you please clarify the following:

Could you please tell me which option (if any) is correct:

1. Should I go there every time or it doesn't matter?

2. Should I go there every time or it doesnt' matter?

And could you please help me with similiar questions, in which both parts are in Present Simple

1. Do you do this at a specific time or doesn't it matter?

2. Do you do this at a specific time or it doesn't matter?

I'm very very grateful for your precious and immense help and thank you very much for the answer to this post!!!

Hello howtosay_,

Of the first two, 1 is correct. The apostrophe replaces the letter 'o' in 'not'.

Of the second two, in informal speaking people would say either one, i.e. both can be correct. I would probably say 'or does it not matter?'; I'd also use that form in writing.

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by g-ssan on Sun, 13/11/2022 - 18:59


Hello sir ,
Thank you for the answer .
I want to ask can you guid me to where are affirmative clause and imperative in your page .

Hello g-ssan,

Affirmative clauses are described on the Verb phrases page. I'd also recommend the Clause structure and verb patterns page for that, and the imperative is briefly mentioned on the latter page as well. You can also read more about the imperative on the Cambridge Dictionary Grammar's Imperative clauses page.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


Submitted by g-ssan on Sat, 12/11/2022 - 17:10


Hello sir ,
Can you tell me in this sentence "Ask them when I can visit them next week "
Why we but the subject "I" after "when "directly ? . Why we should say "Ask them When can I visit them next week? ".

Hello g-ssan,

The key here is to understand that the clause with 'when' is not a question. The verb form is imperative ('Ask them...') which makes it a command or instruction, and there is no need for inversion as you would have in a question. Here are some other examples:

Ask them how much it costs.

Tell me who he is.

Even when the introductory phrase is a question such as 'Can you tell me...' or 'Do you know...' the following clause has normal word order:

Can you tell me how much it costs?

Do you know who he is?

The question here is in the first part; the rest is just a normal affirmative clause.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Annavictor on Thu, 20/10/2022 - 16:29


Hello! Could please kindly help me if these sentences are correct: 1) what do you not read/like? 2) what don't you read/like? 3) what do not you read? . Could you also please advice where to find grammar rules about how to form negative question sentences.'Not' comes after auxiliary do/does or before the main verb in the question sentence? Thank you!

Hello Annavictor,

Sentences 1 and 2 are grammatically correct; sentence 2 is by far the more natural-sounding. 

Sentence 3 is incorrect.

When contracted, the negation is attached to the auxiliary. When not contracted, the negation follows the subject. Other items, such as adverbs, would come after the negating particle and before the main verb:

What don't you ever read?

What do you not ever read?



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Zuzanna12 on Fri, 23/09/2022 - 09:11


Dear Sir,

I have read that when it comes to subject questions we are supposed to make the verb in 3rd person singular for example:

A: They visit us every day.
B: Who visits us every day?

Then why there is not "was" instead of "were" in this example:

A: My documents were lost.
B: Whose documents were lost?

Thank you in advance

Hello Zuzanna12,

Although it's true that subject questions are very often followed by a third-person singular verb, that is not always the case. You've found one example ('Whose documents were lost?'), but there are others -- for example:

A: I don't live alone.
B: How many people live in your house?

The verb has to agree with its subject. When we have a subject question with just a question word (e.g. 'Who phoned?' or 'What happened?'), then the verb is singular unless the situation makes it clear that the subject is plural.

In the case of 'Whose documents were lost?', the subject of the question is really about which documents, which is a plural subject. Or in my example above, it's clear that at least two people live in the person's house, so the verb needs to be plural.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team



Submitted by Anhle on Tue, 10/05/2022 - 16:53


Tks LearnEnglish team. After this lesson I think I literally won't say "I don't know...". I gonna to say "I wonder if..." or "Do you know if..."

Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Mon, 18/04/2022 - 20:28


Hello. Could you please help me choose the correct answer? Why?
- Amani: Didn’t you buy any flour?
- Heba: No, I bought (no - some) to make cakes.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

The correct answer is 'some'.

'Some' can be used before a noun (as a determiner) or as a pronoun, so it can stand alone:

I have some money.

I have some.

'No' can only be used as a determiner:

I have no flour.

NOT *I have no.*



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Ahmed Imam,

In the following short exchange, 'some' is the grammatically correct option.

- Amani: Didn’t you buy any flour?
- Heba: No, I bought (no - some) to make cakes.

But it's an answer that's a bit odd. Amani seems to think that Heba didn't buy any flour but is asking to be sure. Heba says 'no', but then says she bought some. That could perhaps make sense in a very specific context, but out of context I find it odd.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sidra on Wed, 10/11/2021 - 08:42


Hello Sir,
Which could happen during a picnic?
is using "Which" in above question right? why does writer use "Which" instead of "What"?

Hello Sidra,

We generally use 'which' as a question word when there is limited range of options. Without knowing the situation this question was asked in, I'm afraid it's difficult for me to explain why 'which' was used here.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

It’s a part 3 question asked by the examiner in IELTS exam. She said “Which could happen during the picnic?” not “What could happen during the picnic?”
I want to know the difference between two questions, in terms of their meanings.

Hello again Sidra,

If I remember correctly, part 3 refers back to part 2. So I suppose the examiner was referring to a few different options in part 2, but I'd need to know more to be able to explain this specific case.

As I said before, we use 'what' to ask a more open-ended question, that is, when we don't have a range of options in mind. For example, if we were just beginning to speak about sports, I could ask you 'What's your favourite sport?'. In this case, we haven't discussed any specific sports yet.

But imagine we started speaking about sports and then spoke specifically about football, rugby and cricket. If I wanted to find out which of those three you like the most, I'd say 'Which is your favourite?' In this case, 'which' indicates that I'm speaking about those three sports that we've just been discussing. It would be incorrect to say 'What' here if I was referring to those three sports.

I hope this helps you make sense of it.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mason2afm on Thu, 26/08/2021 - 09:42

Hello sir. Can you please tell me wich one the following sentences is grammatically correct? a) why has not my request been fulfilled? b) why has my request not been fulfilled? Thanks a lot.
Profile picture for user Jonathan R

Submitted by Jonathan R on Thu, 26/08/2021 - 16:15

In reply to by Mason2afm


Hi Mason2afm,

Sentence b is correct. In a negative question, not should be positioned after the subject (my request).

Sentence a is grammatically possible if you make the contraction: Why hasn't my request been fulfilled?.

Have a look at this page from the Cambridge Dictionary (see the 'Not and n’t in questions' section) for more explanation and examples. I hope it helps!


The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Slava B

Submitted by Slava B on Wed, 16/06/2021 - 14:59

Hallo again, BCTeam! Tell me please,which of these senteces is more correct in terms of grammar? If both ,then what meaning does the shifting of particle NOT attach to the sentence? Thanks in advance... 1. You are not doing it for us, but for the sake of justice. 2. You are doing it not for us, but for the sake of justice.

Hello Slava B,

Shifting 'not' can change the meaning, but in your example it has little effect beyond the style as the second part of the sentence removes any possible ambiguity.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by integrala on Wed, 17/02/2021 - 14:36

Hi, "Can you guess (on/at) what (are we/we are) working these days?" "Can you guess what (are we/we are) working (on/at) these days?" Which is the correct phrasing of these questions? Thank you.
Profile picture for user Jonathan R

Submitted by Jonathan R on Wed, 17/02/2021 - 15:03

In reply to by integrala


Hi integrala,

It should be: Can you guess what we are working on these days?

We don't invert 'we are' because there's already inversion earlier in the question ('Can you'). The verb 'work(ing)' needs the preposition 'on' to link it to an object (e.g. 'working on a project').

The first question (Can you guess on what we are working?) is grammatically correct too, but putting the preposition 'on' in this position is very formal in style and less commonly used.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Akash Rathore on Mon, 14/12/2020 - 05:14

Hello sir, Please explain how the verb usage is changing in the following sentences. One and a half years have passed. One and a half year was given to you. One and a half years were given to you. Two and a half year has passed.
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Mon, 14/12/2020 - 07:46

In reply to by Akash Rathore


Hello Akash Rathore,

Only sentences 1 and 3 are correct. 'one and a half years' is considered plural, and so the verb forms need to be plural.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by knownman on Thu, 10/12/2020 - 09:25

Hello, The LearnEnglish Team, There is no comment section on the page of 'Short Forms' lesson just after this lesson. Best Regards

Hello knownman,

Thanks very much for telling us about this. I've just changed the Short forms page so that people can comment there now.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ZIZO on Wed, 28/10/2020 - 19:06

Hi, Which sentence is correct? And why? "Who do you think is the famous actor in the world today?" OR "Who do you think the famous actor in the world today is?" Thank you,
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Thu, 29/10/2020 - 11:38

In reply to by ZIZO


Hello Zizo,

The verb 'is' goes at the end, as in the second sentence, but I'm afraid the sentence is still a bit strange in a general context.

Do you mean something like 'Who do you think the most famous actor in the world is today?' The word 'most' creates a superlative form.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Mr. Kirk, Thank you for your answer. I appreciate it. Best regards,

Submitted by amrita_enakshi on Wed, 07/10/2020 - 07:48

Sir Anna writes a story. If this sentence is rewritten in the negative form, then should it be, ( Anna does not write a story. ) ? But then the meaning changes. So what should be the correct way to rewrite? By changing the meaning or simply adding 'not'. Thank you
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 08/10/2020 - 07:18

In reply to by amrita_enakshi


Hello amrita_enakshi,

Anna does not write a story is correct.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'the meaning changes' here. Of course the meaning changes from positive to negative, but the time reference and the action described do not change.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by AkiraTa05 on Thu, 10/09/2020 - 17:27

He could hardly look at it, nor examine it in my presence. [Could I say: "He could hardly look at it or examine it in my presence."?] We can see no error in the judge admitting the recordings, nor in his evaluation of the evidence nor in his ultimate finding. [could I replace "nor" in this sentence with "or"? Is there any difference in meaning?] Thank you for your help teachers.

Hello AkiraTa05,

I think the first sentence is fine with or. In fact, I think or is the more natural choice here.

The second sentence is more problematic. It's unusual to use or in negative sentences, so I think the sentences sound rather clumsy if nor is replaced. I wouldn't go so far as to say it is incorrect, but it certainly has a worse style, in my opinion.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by LubNko525 on Sat, 29/08/2020 - 11:32

Hi English Team, The court did not refer to the correspondence, nor to the contradictory passages in his testimony - How is it different from: 1. The court did not refer to the correspondence or the contradictory passages in his testimony. 2. The court referred to neither the correspondence nor the contradictory passages in his testimony Thanks a lot.

Hello LubNko525,

All of these sentences mean the same thing. They are progressively more formal. In other words, the first one is the one you'd be most likely to see or hear in speaking or writing these days, followed by 1 and then lastly 2.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by liching on Sun, 23/08/2020 - 05:34

Dear LearnEnglish Team, I would like to inquire if both of the two sentences below are correct and the rules apply to them? I have tried searching online but in vain. Is it more advisable to focus on one topic (sport / subject) at a time when asking a question to avoid confusion? a. What is your favourite sport and subject? b. What are your favourite sport and subject? Thank you very much.

Hello liching,

The first sentence is correct.

The choice of verb is determined by the first item in the list, so we would say this:

What is your favourite sport and subject?

What are your favourite sports and subjects?

What is your favourite sport and subjects?

What are your favourite sports and subject?



The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Teacher Peter, Appreciate the swift reply. Thank you!

Submitted by AsahiYo20 on Sun, 23/08/2020 - 03:47

the bank was on any view extremely foolish to invest a large sum of money without independent expert advice Could I say "without any independent expert advice"? Thank you.

Hi AsahiYo20,

Yes! The meaning is the same. But, the version with any is more emphatic.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anurat227 on Sat, 22/08/2020 - 05:55

Hello LearnEnglish Team, He didn’t have any money vs he had no money vs he didn’t have money -- Any difference between them? He had done nothing about it vs He didn’t do anything about it -- Any difference? He consulted neither his wife nor his parents vs he didn’t consult his wife or his parents. -- Any difference? You have to be very careful what you do or say, so that you do not make a mistake or cause a problem. -- How about "do not make any mistakes or cause any problems"? Thanks teacher.

Hello anurat227,

Those are a lot of questions! As for the first three, the first two mean the same thing in general. The third one isn't really correct, though you might hear people use it in informal contexts.

The second pair of phrases you ask about have different verb forms, so they are different that way, but as with the first phrases you asked about, otherwise there is no difference in general.

As for the third pair, again, there's no difference in general, though I would remark that people don't use 'neither ... nor' very often in all but formal contexts any more.

As for your last question, I also prefer the plural forms that you suggest. In most cases, there'd be no difference in meaning.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by LubNko525 on Fri, 21/08/2020 - 09:45

Hi, I need your help please! I am confused about something. We need more money if we are to make any further advances in this area of science Is '...make further advances' also okay? Honesty is the bedrock of any healthy relationship. Is 'bedrock of a healthy relationship' also acceptable? If you have a query about your insurance policy, contact our helpline. How about "...have any queries..."? Thanks a lot for your help teachers!

Hello LubNko525,

'...make further advances' is fine here and does not change the meaning.

'the bedrock of a healthy relationship' is fine.

You can say '...have a query...' or '...have any queries...'. The meaning is the same.



The LearnEnglish Team