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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
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Yes/No questions 2
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Negatives

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

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Negatives 2

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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

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Present simple and past simple questions and negatives 2

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Wh-questions

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

Question words

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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

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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

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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

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Questions with how 2

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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

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Questions with verbs and prepositions 2

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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

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Indirect questions 2

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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.

Comments

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.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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.

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,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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.

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,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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,

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,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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