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

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Submitted by Hala jabir on Fri, 26/11/2021 - 21:34

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When I use verb to be and when I use auxiliary verb in wh question???

Hi Hala jabir,

Use the verb "to be":
- if "be" is the main verb (e.g. How are you? Which station is closest?)
- with present continuous or past continuous (e.g. Where are you going? What were you doing?)
- with passive voice (e.g. Where was the movie filmed?)

Use "do / does / did":
- with verbs (apart from "be") in the present simple or past simple (e.g. Where do you live? Where does he live? Why did she go to London?)

Use "have / has / had":
- with verbs in the present perfect or past perfect (e.g. Where have you been? Where has she been? When I came home, why had you already eaten?)

I hope that helps :)

Jonathan
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tim O'Brien on Fri, 11/06/2021 - 08:22

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Hi LearnEnglish Team, My question has to do with the proper ending punctuation in the following context: If a compound sentence contains two clauses, one of which is a statement and the other a question, how should one punctuate it? For example, which of the following is correctly punctuated? Can you give us your order number and we will check on it. Can you give us your order number and we will check on it? We could, of course, avoid the issue by simply rewriting the sentence, as in this example: If you can give us your order number, we will check on it. But rather than rewrite the sentence to avoid the issue, I’m curious how you would advise punctuating the sentence in its original construction. Thanks for your help. Tim O'Brien

Hello Tim O'Brien,

First of all, I would be tempted to rewrite the sentence! It reads to me more like a spoken sentence than typical written language. I would most likely use a conditional form (If you can... then we will...).

 

That said, I think I would probably use a question mark as the primary function of the sentence is requesting. It is a debatable point, however, so the safest course would be to consult the style guide for your organisation, or else a standard style guide if your organisation does not have one. The Chicago Manual of Style is the most popular in the US, I believe.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Arcangelo-Pereyra on Tue, 11/05/2021 - 23:14

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that was a good grammar lesson, so In the future, I wish to have the opportunity to dominate almost every step

Submitted by alberto bastos on Sun, 02/05/2021 - 20:34

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cool. I shall live in the UK in the next year or I shall live in the UK next year. Which statement is right? or both are wrong?

Submitted by Whitney Choi on Thu, 11/03/2021 - 16:24

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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

Submitted by Moutasim Mohammed on Sun, 28/02/2021 - 20:54

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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

Submitted by PAULA MORALES on Wed, 24/02/2021 - 18:54

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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

Submitted by hasan.kumek on Tue, 02/02/2021 - 10:52

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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

Submitted by Jaison on Mon, 01/02/2021 - 14:14

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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

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

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

In reply to by FirasAkkad

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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?

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!!

Submitted by Josef Stalin on Tue, 10/11/2020 - 13:49

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for the Motherland!!!

Submitted by DaniWeebKage on Sat, 24/10/2020 - 14:38

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Dear Team, What is the difference between these two? Do you have a pen? Or Do you have any pens? I'll glad if you explain when to use 'articles' and when to use 'any'. Thanks.

Submitted by AnaGallupi on Thu, 15/10/2020 - 21:09

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Very good exercise.

Submitted by Rubin Jahé on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 13:26

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Hi sir, I want to ask something. Which sentence has the correct form? 1. Why is the ball so round? 2. Why the ball is so round? Thank you, sir

Hello Rubin Jahé,

The first sentence is correct. To make a question with the verb be, we use inversion, so the verb (is) comes before the subject (the ball).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Via on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 05:32

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Hello, When should I use are, do, does, or did to ask a question?

Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 08:08

In reply to by Via

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Hello Via,

This is explained above. 'do' and 'does' are used to ask questions with many verbs in the present simple and 'did' is used in the same way, but to speak about the past.

If there's a specific part of the explanation you have a question about, please let us know.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sindhallb on Sun, 30/08/2020 - 06:40

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Good exercise to practice question sentences

Submitted by Risa warysha on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 09:25

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Hi sir, Could you please explain if the following sentence is true. Never did I tell my mom the issue, and neither did my dad. Thanks in advance

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 13:37

In reply to by Risa warysha

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Hello Risa warysha,

This sentence is grammatically correct, though I would probably say 'Never did I speak to my mother about the issue, and neither did my father.' This is because this sort of grammar (with a negative or restrictive word at the beginning followed the verb) is rather formal and so it sounds a bit odd to use familiar terms such as 'mom' and 'dad' with it. 

I'm afraid I don't know if the statement is true or not.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by M19 on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 12:38

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I'm having a great time learning English here! Is it correct to ask, " She went home?" Is it also right to ask, "she did go home, didn't she?". How about, " she did go home". Are all these statements correct grammatically?

Hello M19,

Great -- we're glad to hear this!

This page presents only the basics of question forms. All of the forms you mention are also correct and are not mentioned here because they are more advanced.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for the confirmation! This question from the above grammar exercise " -----you speak Korean? Just a little" Can is the correct answer for it, but would it be correct if asked as " How much Korean do you speak?

Hello again M19,

Yes, you could change the sentence and ask it in the ways you have suggested -- that is, you can say both 'How much Korean do you speak?' and 'How much Korean can you speak?'.

For Task 7.1, 'Do' is also a grammatically correct answer, though of course that answer is not an option in the task.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Or rather, " how much Korean can you speak"?

Submitted by Muay on Wed, 29/07/2020 - 22:12

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Thank you so much, it's Always good and helpful to revise and remamber how to make questions with question words and auxiliaries

Submitted by yusuf fanani on Tue, 28/07/2020 - 12:15

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would you like to explain to me how to use " which" and "whose" in a question word?

Hello yusuf fanani,

These are explained on our Pronouns in questions page. Please have a look and if you have any specific questions about them, please feel free to ask us on that page.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sribashu30 on Mon, 27/07/2020 - 17:25

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Which sentence is correct among the following two sentences: 1)Mr Sen is an actor and writer. 2)Mr Sen is an actor and a writer.

Hello sribashu30,

Both are correct. When word is repeated like the indefinite article in this sentence you can often omit it.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Saamongo on Sun, 26/07/2020 - 15:47

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Very intretesting but I use to give the following structures: WH questions: a)- wh+ aux+ s+ v + (c)? Used with the auxiliaries HAVE - BE and modals. b)- WH+do/does+s+v+(c)? When the verb is in the present tense. C)- WH+DID+S+V+(C)? When the main verb is in the past. YES/NO QUESTIONS: a)- aux+ S + V+ (c)? For the present, past, or future. b)- DO/Does+S+V+(c)? When the verb is in the present. C)- Did+S+V+(c)? When the verb is in the past.