Question forms

Do you know how to make questions? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how questions are made.

Is he a teacher?
Does she eat meat?
When did you get here?
How much does a train ticket cost?

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Question forms: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

To make questions, we often put the verb before the subject. This is called inversion.

Affirmative Question
I am late. Am I late?
I can help. Can I help?
She is sleeping. Is she sleeping?
We have met before. Have we met before?

If there is a question word (why, what, where, how, etc.), it goes before the verb.

Question Question with question word
Are you late? Why are you late?
Was she there? When was she there?
Can I help? How can I help?
Have we met before? Where have we met before?

This is true for sentences with be, sentences that have auxiliary verbs (e.g. They are waiting. She has finished.) and sentences with modal verbs (can, will, should, might, etc.).

Questions in the present simple and past simple

For other verbs in the present simple, we use the auxiliary verb do/does in the question.

Affirmative Question Question with question word
You work at home.   Do you work at home? Where do you work?
It costs £10.  Does it cost £10? How much does it cost?

We use the auxiliary verb did in the past simple.

Affirmative Question Question with question word
She went home.  Did she go home? Where did she go?
They went to the cinema.  Did they go to the cinema? Where did they go?

Subject questions

In some questions, who or what is the subject of the verb. There is no inversion of subject and verb in these questions.

Who broke the window?
Who is knocking on the door?

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Question forms: Grammar test 2

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Average: 4.1 (7 votes)
Profile picture for user Jonathan R

Submitted by Jonathan R on Tue, 02/02/2021 - 04:28

In reply to by Jaison

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Hi Jaison,

The third sentence is correct :)

The first and second sentences need a different auxiliary verb.

  • When does our class start? ('start' = main verb, in the base form. It needs a form of 'do' as the auxiliary verb)
  • When is our class going to start? ('our class' = it)

Yes, we can use the present simple to speak about a future action. Have a look at this present simple page for more examples and explanation. 

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by FirasAkkad on Wed, 27/01/2021 - 18:57

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Hi. When do we use "subject questions". I thought we only use it in spoken language, especially with the first example which might be: Who did break the window? Thanks
Profile picture for user Jonathan R

Submitted by Jonathan R on Thu, 28/01/2021 - 04:03

In reply to by FirasAkkad

Permalink

Hi FirasAkkad,

Actually, subject questions are common in spoken and written language too :)

The first one should be: Who broke the window? Subject questions use the same verb form as affirmative sentences.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks, Jonathan. May you elaborate further on when do we use subject questions. Best, Firas

Hi FirasAkkad,

Sure :) You use subject questions if the thing you want to know (i.e. the answer to your question) is who or what did something. Here are some examples.

Who broke the window?

  • Somebody broke the window, and I want to know who did it.
  • 'Who' = subject, 'the window' = object. 
  • Answer: Sam broke the window.)

 

Who wrote this book?

  • Somebody wrote this book, and I want to know who wrote it.
  • 'Who' = subject, 'this book' = object.
  • Answer: My father wrote this book.)

 

You use object questions if you know who did something, but you want to know what he or she did. For example:

What did Sam do?

  • 'Sam' = subject. Sam did something, and I want to know what he did.
  • 'What' = object.
  • Answer: He broke a window.

 

Which book did your father write?

  • 'your father' = subject. Your father wrote a book, and I want to know which one he wrote.
  • 'Which book' = object.
  • Answer = He wrote this book.)

 

Who did you talk to?

  • 'you' = subject. You talked to somebody, and I want to know who it was.
  • 'Who' = object.
  • Answer = I talked to my sister.

 

Does that make sense?

Jonathan 

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Jonathan, Now it makes perfect sense. I would suggest this goes to the "Gramme Expalniaintion". It is much easier to understand when you make a distinction between the "subject questions" and the "object questions". Have a nice weekend. Firas

Hi Firas,

OK, thanks for the suggestion. We'll consider it for the next update :)

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Praneet Dixit on Mon, 25/01/2021 - 04:51

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Dear team, I have a question - How do we form interrogative negative sentences? For example, here are two sentences - 1)Do we not play cricket? 2)Don't we play cricket? Which form is correct and should be used?
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 25/01/2021 - 08:11

In reply to by Praneet Dixit

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Hello Praneet Dixit,

Both forms are grammatically possible, but the second is the one we use in almost all contexts.

The first form sounds very formal and rather archaic. Unless you are aiming for this kind of rhetorical effect, for example while giving a political speech or a religious sermon, it would not be appropriate.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Luis Fernando … on Wed, 02/12/2020 - 22:28

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Oh yeaH!!