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.

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Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 17/06/2017 - 15:57

In reply to by Adya's

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Hello Adya's,

The second one is the correct one -- the auxiliary verb 'did' is omitted before 'clap', but is understood to be there.

No worries about the multiple posts. We monitor all comments before they are published, so we just deleted them. But thanks for letting us know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by RamAvtaar on Sun, 16/04/2017 - 15:05

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Thanks Peter M. So, does it mean that for the 'Simple Present' statements, which do have an auxiliary verb as the main verb in it , we can't make question with 'DO/DOES'. Therefore, we have to use auxiliary verb in those statements to form the question. Please explain with the following examples 1) I’m nineteen years old. 2) My name is John 3) You are welcome Thanks in Advance !

Hello SushilKumar,

The verb 'be' forms its questions by inversion and does not require an auxiliary verb:

I'm nineteen years old > Are you (Am I) nineteen years old?

My name is John > Is my name John?

You are welcome > Are you welcome?

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by RamAvtaar on Sat, 15/04/2017 - 20:46

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Hello Sir, Why it is mentioned that " The present simple and the past simple have no auxiliary" ? Because example like " I’m nineteen years old. " , do have an auxiliary verb despite being Simple Present.

Hello SushilKumar,

The verb 'be' can be an auxiliary verb but it can also be a main verb when it appears alone. In your example the verb 'am' appears alone and is the main verb. It would be an auxiliary verb if there were another part to the verb:

I'm working at the office. ['am' is an auxiliary verb]

I'm at the office. ['am' is the main verb]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mohitm on Sun, 02/04/2017 - 08:54

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Hello Sir! I'm a bit confused with this sentence to form a question : The river Tiber flowed round the town so people were safer in Rome. Would this be the question : Which river did flow round the town so people were safer I Rome? Thanks in advance!

Hello mohitm,

Yes, I'd say that's the most likely question, though others are possible. Please note, however, that since 'river' is the subject of the verb, it should be: 'Which river flowed round the town ...?'

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by html on Thu, 30/03/2017 - 19:56

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Hi! I would like to know if the sentence "That music is good to hear" is grammatically correct? If not, what would be the correct form? Thanks :)

Hi lingskie,

The phrase is grammatically correct, but we generally use 'good to hear' in reference to good news or some positive comment rather than in the context of nice music. To talk about music we might say 'It's nice to listen to' or 'It's good listening'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much sir for always helping us, english learners with our grammar questions.

Submitted by naghmairam on Tue, 14/03/2017 - 06:58

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Hello, what is the difference in meaning in the following sentences? How many children have you? How many children do you have? Thanks

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 14/03/2017 - 12:38

In reply to by naghmairam

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Hello naghmairam,

The second sentence is the standard form in most any major variety of English spoken around the world. The first one is not as common and you can hear it more often in some varieties of English. There is no difference in meaning between them.

In any case, I'd recommend you use the second one, especially if you're in an English class, as it is the more widely-considered standard form of the two.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Widescreen on Mon, 27/02/2017 - 12:28

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Hi team, In this sentence, which tag is the correct one please? "Have another coffee, will you? / or would you or do you ? Thank you.

Hello Widescreen,

Question tags are a bit unusual after imperative verb forms, and if you use them, please be aware that people might think you are being quite rude. In this case, either 'will you' or 'would you' is grammatically correct. In theory, 'would' is a bit more polite than 'will', but as I mentioned earlier, both are potentially rude if used with a serious tone.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sash on Tue, 10/01/2017 - 17:49

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Even with vulnerabilities, some analysts say the convenience of biometric locks is a plus — not least because it may give the password-averse another easy option to secure their devices. Taken from the article http://bigstory.ap.org/article/574f7360eab54d3a8a0cc5f35dc104a2/why-fingers-make-handy-if-not-foolproof-digital-keys

Hello Sash,

As Kirk says, in this context 'password-averse' describes a person who does not like to use passwords, though they may use other methods of security.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you. Cheers. I do have another question, though. Can I use the word stereotype in this way? I used to stereotype tall people as unapproachable and scary. Thank you in advance.

Hello Sash,

Yes, that is a correct use of the word. You might want to check out a concordancer, where you can multiple examples of how a word has been used in context. If you want to see what I mean, go to the NOW Corpus and then write 'stereotype' in the search box. Press the 'Find matching strings' button, then press on the word STEREOTYPE on the next page, and you can see hundreds (often thousands) of examples of how the word has been used around the internet. It can be really useful for the kinds of analysis you seem to be interested in.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sash on Mon, 09/01/2017 - 14:16

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Could you please tell me what password-averse means? I tried but was not able to google it.

Hello sash,

It's difficult to say for sure without knowing the context, but I imagine that it means 'opposed to or disliking passwords' (see 'averse' in the dictionary). So someone who is 'password-averse' doesn't like using passwords. Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sash on Fri, 23/12/2016 - 16:50

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Now, I am compensating for the time I didn't spend on developing my English speaking abilities. Would anyone say something like this? Or is there a better way? Thanks for your help and being here for us learners! :)

Hello Sash,

Yes, that sentence is correct and makes sense. A more informal way of saying 'compensate' is 'pay for', e.g. '... I'm paying for not developing ...', but what you suggest is perfectly correct.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sash on Fri, 16/12/2016 - 12:31

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We noticed that we would never reach a conclusion by our parallel arguments . Could you please tell me if this sentence is grammatically correct?!

Hello Sash,

It is indeed grammatically correct. I don't completely understand it, but I expect the context makes the meaning clearer.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by AbddelmadjidKouba on Wed, 14/12/2016 - 21:06

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hello LearnEnglish Team, I'm to learn English on my own, I have already done a placement test at British council Algeria, And I had the A2 level, Could you help me set up a study plan to continue in this way ? Best wishes, Abdelmadjid

Hello Abdelmadjid,

I'm afraid LearnEnglish is not a course and we don't provide study plans. LearnEnglish is a collection of materials for self-study which are open-access to all users. The team here deals with the maintenance of the site and, when possible, with questions from users on topics related to our materials, but we don't provide lessons or a course as such.

You can find materials by level by using the search facility. Just type in the level you are interested in. For example, you can find materials for A2 level here and for B1 level here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sinuhe69 on Fri, 11/11/2016 - 02:59

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Hi English Team, I'm a Self-learner, so I have learned English mostly through reading/writing/listening and never have any formal English class. Thus sometimes I get confused with some English constructs like between the Present Perfect and other Past Forms. I also have problems with questions using Did and Have. They often "sound" both correct to "my ears" like: - Did you meet him? and - Have you met him? But now through your page, I deducted that when I form the "normal"/non-question sentences, I can determine which one is correct or would be better to use. For the above examples, if I intend to ask if my friend just met the third person (not long ago), I should use the past simple question "Did you meet him". But if I intend to ask whether my friend has ever met/knew the third person, I should use the second form. Is that correct? And otherwise, do you have any suggestion to tackle my English problems more effectively? Thanks for the awesome website and patiently answering reader's questions. BTW: IMO the test is not very helpful because the first word was always properly capitalised thus giving the reader a too obvious clue.

Hello sinuhe69,

Yes, it sounds like you understand that correctly. The difference between the past simple ('did you meet') and present perfect ('have you met') is explained on our talking about the past page and the videos on this and this Word on the Street pages if you want to practise them a bit more.

If you've learned all this just from studying on your own, I'd encourage you to continue with the method you're using, as it seems to be working!

Thanks for your comment about the exercise. You're right of course, but we feel that capitalisation is important enough that it should be that way.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Meque on Sun, 06/11/2016 - 18:48

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Hello, I'm new on the form, I'm enjoying my experience already. I can speak fluently but my biggest wickness is to write and read. I can read silently and understand .But in the class I get nervous and tend not to read well . I'm now focussing on my grammar and vocabulary . How can I improve in these two areas?

Hello Meque,

Welcome! There's some general advice on improving different aspects of English on our Frequently asked questions page. Many people find that reading a text out loud in class makes it more difficult to understand. I'd recommend asking your teacher for help with this skill, as it is one that's difficult to advise you about without knowing you. But you might want to read the texts silently to yourself after class so that you understand them better.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mlktr on Wed, 26/10/2016 - 21:16

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hello, how can i start learning english.

Submitted by Sash on Wed, 07/09/2016 - 20:09

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Hello, again! Alex: "What subject do you like the most?" Mark: "I like English best." Why do we use "the most" and then we use "best" in this dialogue? What is the difference between the most and best? Thank you for all the help?

Hello Sash,

In this context both can be used with the same meaning - there is no difference between 'like the best' and 'like the most'.

The second speaker chooses 'best' in order to avoid repetition; if the first speaker had said 'best' then the second speaker could have said 'the most' for the same reason.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sash on Wed, 07/09/2016 - 13:02

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"The price for a pack of brown sugar is high." How do I analyze this sentence? Is there a lesson or material you can refer me to, please? Why is everything a subject

Hello Sash,

Can you please be more specific? What is it about the sentence that you don't understand? I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean when you say 'Why is everything a subject', as I don't see the word 'everything' in the sentence, and the subject of that sentence seems to be the price of a pack of sugar.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sunny21parikh on Tue, 23/08/2016 - 11:15

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What is que tag for this Everybody has a pen. Don't they? Or haven't they? Considering simple present takes do or does but doubt in has/have cases.

Hello Sunny21parikh,

Both can be used. 'don't they' is the most logical one, as it is the question tag for 'has' in this case, but 'haven't they' is also fine, as it is the question tag for 'has got', which is also possible here.

By the way, we have a page on question tags that might be helpful to you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sibtid Pocachang on Mon, 22/08/2016 - 08:39

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Hello! I want to know if "You are Thai, aren't you?" is more appropriate than "Are you Thai?" in the context of one stranger wanting to start a conversation with another. Let's say it is not obvious that the person spoken to is Thai. It is two people waiting for a bus (informal). I think "You are Thai, aren't you?" sounds more polite, and it seems to invite further conversation. Do you agree?

Submitted by Sibtid Pocachang on Thu, 03/11/2016 - 08:59

In reply to by Sibtid Pocachang

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I see something wrong with my question: if two people are waiting for a bus and they do not know each other, then the situation is formal, right? So, two people, they do not know each other, which of those two sentences is better?

Hello Sibtid Pocachang,

That's not a particularly formal situation in my opinion. It really depends on how you perceive the person waiting with you. If you think the person has a higher social rank than you, then using a formal form would be appropriate. If you're not sure, it's also appropriate to be formal, but that doesn't mean that being informal is impolite.

Neither question is particularly formal or informal. In a situation like this, your tone of voice and how you ask the question would be ways of making the situation formal or informal. For example, you could say 'Pardon me, sir (or 'ma'am')' to make your the situation more formal.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Appy14sep on Sat, 20/08/2016 - 01:35

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Which sentence is correct : Who is the person you recognized at the cinema last night? Or Who is the person you had recognized at the cinema last night?

Hello Appy14sep,

The first sentence is almost certainly the correct one. The second one is not grammatically impossible, but would require quite a specific context.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mohannad79 on Mon, 15/08/2016 - 12:07

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Hello, Why we didn't said the question as " is he finished work? " when the clause was "he's finished work"

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 16/08/2016 - 05:39

In reply to by Mohannad79

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Hello Mohannad79,

The form here is present perfect:

He's finished work = He has finished work.

To make the question we use the auxiliary verb 'has' not 'is'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ljunior on Tue, 09/08/2016 - 14:48

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on the exemple They will have arrived by now >> Will they have arrived by now? shouldnt the modal be in past tense in the question? it sounds like it dosent match with arrived.

Hello ljunior,

Modal verbs do not have past forms. There are perfect forms (should have, must have etc), but no past forms. Therefore we say:

You should go there. [referring to the present or future]

You should have gone there. [referring to the past]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ljunior on Tue, 09/08/2016 - 14:28

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on a exercise to make questions to given answers is there a form to recognize the question as for the answer 8. i went to canada three years is the correct question 1. where were you three years ago? 2. where you went three years ago? or 3. when you went to canada?

Hello ljunior,

I'm afraid we do not provide answers to tasks from other sites or from homework. If we started to do this then we would never stop!

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello peter, I understand tough this "homework" as already be done and, i was discussing with the teacher on which the correct answer was bout, 1 and 3, the middle one i just put as i was not sure on the construction level. therefore my main concern is how to identify which would be the correct question or there no determined structure for it?