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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 Sir!

I am confused about the usage of "OR" in question sentences. When there are two clauses in a sentence joined by the conjunction "or", shall we use question order in both clauses or only in the first clause?

Some example sentences are given below:

1: Do you still live in the same place or have you moved?
Do you still live in the same place or you have moved?

2: Would you like to eat with us or have you already eaten?
Would you like to eat with us or you have already eaten?

3: Do you want to join the club or are you already a member?
Do you want to join the club or you are already a member?

Which ones of the above sentences are correct and why?
1: Do you want to go with us or stay at home?
2: Did you accept their invitation or turned down?

The above sentences seem ok to me, but I'm confused about the other ones because someone asked me not to use question order after the conjunction "or".

I don't have any idea about this rule but what comes to my mind is when there are two different tenses or two different auxiliary verbs in both clauses, we should use the question order in both clauses. When there is the same tense or same auxiliary verbs in both clauses we should not use question order in the second clause.

I'll be highly obliged if you could help me out with this problem.

Thanks in advance!

Hello muslimbadshah,

You need to use question word order in both clauses; the use of or does not change this. Thus, the first version of each pair of sentences is correct.


In your second set of examples you may be confused because there are words omitted in the second clause. The full sentences are as follows:

Do you want to go with us or do you want to stay at home?

Did you accept their invitation or did you turn it down?

Note the changes in the second example. Your version was not grammatical.

As you can see, question word order is required. The conjunction or does not change this.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello muslimbadshah,

Question word order is used in both clauses so the first sentence in each pair is correct. It is not correct to change the word order after or in that way, and the tenses/verb forms used do not change this.


Your second examples are a little different because you are omitting the question itself in the second clause to avoid repetition. If we put it in then the structure becomes clear:

Do you want to go with us or (did you want to) stay at home?

Did you accept their invitation or (did you) turn it down?

I've corrected the second example as it was not grammatical for other reasons.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much sir for your kind response.
Now my concept is crystal clear.

How come you not know the reason for your stress?
Is this sentence correct?
Please answer my question

Hello Sharmila_M,

No, the sentence is not correct. You need to use don't to make the negative:

How come you don't know the reason for your stress?

Note that How come is very informal. It means the same as How did it happen that... or Why... 



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,

Please tell me the diffrence between these two sentences.

Iam done and I have done.

Thanks in advance.

Hello rizzu8888,

This really depends on the context.


The sentence I am done means the same as I have finished.


I hve done does not look like a complete sentence. You could say I have done it, which has a similar meaning to I have finished, but it would depend on the context. It's hard to be sure with the sentence in isolation.



The LearnEnglish Team


I've seen the question "Who do you think should be president?" and I'm confused it may be contradicted English Grammar if someone decided to pass IELTS. Probably a task can be indicated "make a question" from a context about president, as I think once someone does the same way will it be wrong? I mean someone decided to pass IELTS and saw a task to read context about president with making a question, as a result it is done like that "Who do you think should be president?". As it is seen in front of "president" there is zero article according the rule "When a singular countable noun is used after be and become and denotes a unique job/profession"

Please answer my questions, see below.
1 Is the question "Who do you think should be president?" grammatically correct?
2 Is that right that in front of "president" no article?

Thank you

Hello Vitub

Yes, that question is correct and in this context, no article is needed. When speaking about a unique job position (i.e. where there is only one), 'the' is not usually used before the complement if we are speaking about the person gaining the position. I know that must seem like a very odd rule, but it is indeed the way native speakers use the language!

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team