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Question forms

Do you know how to make questions?

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

Language level

Beginner: A1
Pre-intermediate: A2

Comments

Dear Teacher,

Which one is the correct written short answer to each of the following ‘Where’ questions? Thanks!

Q1: Where do you want to go?
a. To the park.
b. The park.
c. Park.
Q2: Where do you go on Sunday?
a. To the church.
b. The church.
c. Church.

Hello Whitney Choi,

For the first question, a. and b. are both correct.

For the second one, it depends on the habits of the person who's responding. If they go to church regularly on Sundays, c. is the only correct answer, but it'd be better to say 'to church'.

I'd suggest you have a look at our Articles 2 page, which discusses the use of 'the' before 'church' and similar words.

By the way, please don't post your questions more than once. It can take us some time to respond to comments, and it only slows things down if you post your comments more than once.

Best wishes,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi teacher is there any different between questions in America and u k something like American said( may I have something?) And you didn't mention that.

Hi Moutasim Mohammed,

There's no difference in the way questions are formed in the UK and the US. There may be differences in terms of which questions are more or less common, of course, but this is true with any dialects, not just UK/US.

 

The question 'May I have something?' is perfectly fine in both the UK and the US. In terms of the grammar, it's a question with a modal verb using inversion to create a yes/no question. The question 'Can I help?' has the same grammatical structure in this regard.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello there, I am from Mexico city and now I have the opportunity to teach to three children English.
But one of my students made me a question that I am not very sure of the answer: When is neccesary to use auxiliary verbs in questions...?
Hope someone can help me! :)

Hello Paula,

As is explained in detail above, the auxiliary verb 'do' (which also has the forms 'does' and 'did') is used to form questions in the present simple and past simple tenses.

In all the other tenses, an auxiliary verb is already present in normal verb forms -- for example, in the present continuous, the verb 'be' is already used ('You are reading'), so we also use it in questions ('Are you reading?').

The only exception to this is the verb 'be' when it is used alone. No auxiliary verb is used in questions here ('Are you the teacher?').

I hope this helps you.

I also wanted to recommend that you have a look at LearnEnglish Kids and LearnEnglish Teens, where you might find some materials you could use with your students.

Good luck!

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

It's really good exercise I liked it but I couldn't find onject questions I think there aren't. Isn't it?

Hello hasan.kumek,

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.

The section at the bottom ('subject questions') describes questions where there is no inversion and the question word simply replaces the subject. The other sections describe questions using inversion, which are what are sometimes called .object questions'. I don't think 'object questions' is a good name as questions with inversion could be about other aspects of the sentence such as prepositional, adjectival or adverbial phrases.

 

You can read more about questions of various types on this page:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/questions-and-negatives

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear team
When are our class starts?
When are our class going to start?
When will our class start?
Which sentence is correct?
Can we use present tense to speak about future action?

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

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