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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and also i read something by pyramid.org.in replied on 27 July, 2016 - 09:17 India PERMALINK dear sir/madam, we use do/does/did to emphasize on positive sentences in present simple and past simple eg. i write .......... i do write he writes .......he does write and i got a doubt is it also applied to "having", as it follows: im nineteen years old >> i have nineteen years old ???

Submitted by Sash on Wed, 29/06/2016 - 17:32

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Hello can anyone tell me which one is correct and why Who goes to your apartment? Who did go to your apartment? , and Who gave Lena this expensive watch? Who did give Lena this expensive watch? Is there like a rule or something when to use did and when not?

Hello Sash,

I think the correct forms would be:

Who went to your apartment?

Who gave Lena this expensive watch?

 

These are examples of subject questions. You can find more information on these on this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by maqsoodahmedmagsi on Wed, 18/05/2016 - 20:55

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Hello, Is there any good way to punctuate the sentences nicely?

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 19/05/2016 - 07:52

In reply to by maqsoodahmedmagsi

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Hello maqsoodahmedmagsi,

Your sentence is punctuated correctly. If you have questions about another sentence you're welcome to ask them. The more specific your question, the better we can answer it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Hugong on Wed, 11/05/2016 - 09:38

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Hi Just wondering if sentence below is correct: I can see that in your house rules infant wouldn't be allowed to stay in, is it? I think the tag question is incorrect. But are there any other mistakes? Thanks.

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 12/05/2016 - 06:55

In reply to by Hugong

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Hello Hugong,

I'm afraid we aren't able to correct users' texts, as it requires quite a lot of time on our part, far more than we have available for this sort of thing. But, to try to answer your question, that's correct, the question tag in that sentence is a bit odd (though comprehensible). You could change it to 'right?' and it would work a bit better. In general, my impression is that question tags are probably used most often in simpler sentences, so something like 'According to the House Rules, children aren't allowed, are they?' would be more common. (Note that 'infant' is much more specific than 'children'.)

You can read more about them on our Question tags page.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Carla L on Sun, 08/05/2016 - 21:52

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I' m happy! 56 vs. 56.

Submitted by ElSayedEG on Mon, 11/04/2016 - 00:38

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my total score is 56 out of 56 100 % , i'm so happy :)

Submitted by me again on Wed, 06/04/2016 - 14:43

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Hello; I would like to know what are the rules on using do and to be in a question. is there a simple explanation to help a learner choose the right one? Thank you

Hello me again,

You must use 'do/does' when forming questions in the present simple and use 'did' (which is the past form of 'do') when forming questions in the past simple.

Otherwise, use the auxiliary verb 'be' or 'have' that is part of the other tenses to form questions. For example, the past simple is 'was/were' (='be' in the past) + -ing form so you use 'was/were' in the question. The same is true of, for example, the past perfect ('had' + past participle) – 'had' is used in questions. 

Modal verbs like 'will' and 'can' are a kind of auxiliary verb, so they are also used in questions.

I hope this helps you.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Daeiou RK on Thu, 04/02/2016 - 18:16

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Hello Mr.Peter M, Thanks for your prompt reply. I need one more clarification. Is there any difference in meaning and usage of the following sentences? 1. Who will she dance with? 2. Whom will she dance with? 3. With whom will she dance? Which one is preferred in Spoken English? Please reply. Thanks in advance. With best regards, Ravikumar

Hello Daeiou RK,

As I suggested in my first answer, in modern English 'whom' is used less and less frequently. The second sentence here is not one that would be considered standard in modern English. The first is the most frequently used; the third is very formal and unusual.

With reference to your example in your earlier comment, I would also add that we would not use 'much' in the way that you do. We would say 'very much', not only 'much'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Daeiou RK on Wed, 03/02/2016 - 17:36

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Sirs, There are two interrogative sentences: 1.Who does he like much? 2. Whom does he like much? I think that the first one is preferred by the native speakers and the second one by others. In the first sentence, there are two subjective pronouns i.e. 'who' and 'he'. How can you justify the presence of two subjects in a sentence without any conjunctions? With best regards, Ravikumar

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 04/02/2016 - 09:41

In reply to by Daeiou RK

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Hello Ravikumar,

The use of 'whom' is slowly disappearing from modern English, and 'who' is becoming used as both the subject and object forms - just as with 'which' for example. 'Whom' sounds very formal to the modern ear.

In modern English 'whom' is now only used consistently when immediately following a preposition: 'to whom' rather than 'to who', for example. Even then, however, most speakers will change the word order and say 'Who.... to?'

 


Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Daeiou RK on Mon, 25/01/2016 - 17:55

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Hello teachers, I am from India. Although my mother tongue is Tamizh (Tamil), I love English as it is the language useful to communicate with the rest of the world. I feel awkward to read some of comments in this site to see 'i' instead of 'I' referring to 'myself' and 'english' instead of 'English' . Why don't you insist or advise the readers / writers of the comments to at least adopt the basic grammatical rules? With best regards, Ravikumar

Hello Ravikumar,

Thanks for your comment. There are several reasons we don't correct users' errors. First, in general, we believe it's better for people to write, even if they make mistakes, than it is for them not to write, so we don't want to discourage it in any way. Also, if we pointed out mistakes, we'd also need to correct them, and we don't offer that kind of service. We're simply too small team of people to be able to do that.

I hope you'll still read and write here in the comments!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by avir111 on Mon, 30/11/2015 - 16:27

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Hi there, I have a question about following questions: 1) "What a beautiful ring! Have you got engaged?" 2) "What a beautiful ring! Did you get engaged?" Which one is correct and why? I told my student it was the first one (as there is some context given), but her school teacher says it's the second one... Please help!

Hello avir111,

That really depends on the wider context, as well as the variety of English. In British English, for example, 1) is probably more common and 2) is more common in American English. I'd suggest you take a look at the Transport and Travel Scene 2 - Language Focus and Jobs Scene 2 - Language Focus pages for a discussion of the use of these two verb forms.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by M.Moinuddin on Sun, 27/09/2015 - 09:05

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Sir, I want to ask a question that why have you introduced only non-wh question. Is there any reason?

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 27/09/2015 - 12:49

In reply to by M.Moinuddin

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Hello M.Moinuddin,

Questions with question words are formed in the same way as yes/no questions; you simply add a question word to the front.

This is not our only page on the topic. You can find more information on this, as well as a description of how subject and object questions work, on this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by virginuncle on Fri, 14/08/2015 - 20:46

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Question : I am extremely confused about are / do question form. For example , both "are you saying he is stupid ? " and "do you saying he is stupid ?" sound correct to me. Why "do you smoke ? " and "are you okey ?" are correct ? why I can't say "are you smoke ?" or "do you okey ?" I simply cannot understand grammar rule of question form Please help me !

Hello virginuncle,

As it says on the page, we make a question by moving the auxiliary to the front. If there is no auxiliary then we use 'do' (in the correct form). For example:

'She is saying he is stupid' > there is an auxiliary ('is') so we move it to the front:

Is she saying he is stupid?

'She smokes' > there is no auxiliary, so we use 'do':

Does she smoke?

We do not use 'be' to make questions unless it is already there in the affirmative sentence.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rackel on Sun, 26/07/2015 - 23:45

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Hi, So, can I say that only auxiliary verbs have negative forms (plus modals)? Thanks,

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 27/07/2015 - 14:38

In reply to by Rackel

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Hello Rackel,

Not really. You can have negative infinitives, for example ('to not go'). It is also possible, though unusual, to use 'have not' as a main verb:

He hadn't any time.

This is very formal, but not incorrect.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by LarisaAlizada on Fri, 24/07/2015 - 21:47

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Which is correct? ''Who did he give the flowers?'' or ''Who did he give the flowers to?''

Hello LarisaAlizada,

In this sentence you need the preposition at the end. Many questions work like this in English:

Who did he give the flowers to?

Where are you from?

Who did you go with?

What did you do it for?

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by GIRLSSLAVE on Sun, 14/06/2015 - 10:30

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Good morning, i wanna ask if there are another ways to form a question ?

Hello GIRLSSLAVE,

There are many ways to ask questions, such as with intonation or facial expressions, but questions as a grammatical form are as described.

Did you have a particular example in mind? If so, please post it and we'll be happy to comment.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by grammar2015 on Sat, 06/06/2015 - 11:17

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Hi What is your name? Why your car was sold? Who stole your money? Which town is developed? Where is the village of your friend? When is your birthday? Are they correct? What kind of questions are they?

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 09/06/2015 - 07:00

In reply to by grammar2015

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Hello grammar2015,

These wh- questions are all formed correctly except for the second one: the auxiliary verb 'was' should go after the interrogative word 'why'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ewigkeit on Sun, 17/05/2015 - 17:29

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Hello, I would like to know all about indirect questions. How to make it, structure and so on. I will be really thankful for your reply. Kind regards.

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 18/05/2015 - 07:39

In reply to by Ewigkeit

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Hello Ewigkeit,

Indirect questions are explained on our Reported questions page, where you can also find an exercise to practise them.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Zalaand on Sat, 16/05/2015 - 11:42

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Indeed its very good Page if someone want to learn English.

Submitted by Bhem on Wed, 13/05/2015 - 00:35

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This is cool! My English will much exercise here.

Submitted by nick_axe on Thu, 07/05/2015 - 10:55

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Hi English Team :) I have 2 sentences and I wanna make questions about 'subject questions' (WH questions). 1. Ardi and Rizky write a letter. = who write a letter? 2. Ardi and Rizky are writing a letter. = who are writing a letter? Is that right? if that's wrong, please explain me why :) thank you

Hello nick,

When used as the subject of a wh-question, 'who' is followed by a singular verb. So your first question should be 'Who writes a letter?' and the second should be 'Who is writing a letter?'

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ifyexcel on Wed, 01/04/2015 - 07:02

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Please, can someone say "they have worked hard". If yes, in what context?
Hi Ify, Yes, that's a perfectly good sentence. Of course, there are a huge number of possible contexts it would make sense in, but you could use it to talk about a team or group of people who have just completed a difficult task together. Adam The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by irakli gogrichiani on Sun, 29/03/2015 - 13:59

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this is best practice for me. thank you!

Submitted by AhmadDennie on Fri, 27/03/2015 - 17:29

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I have a grammar problem, I argue it with my lecture in the last meeting. it's about possessive adjective and poss. pronoun. example of p.adj: my, your, their etc. and for p.pronoun e.g: mine, yours, theirs. My question is, can I apply possessive pronoun for person's name? for example in poss.adj: it is your book, but that is eva's book. It is easy because it uses aphostrophe and followed by noun. NOW, how about possessive pronoun? example for Dennie: this is Eva's book, but that is Dennies/Dennie's? of course by using poss.pronoun it is not followed by noun, but should I use aphostrophe or not?

Hello AhmadDennie,

Yes, you can use 's irrespective of whether or not a noun follows. Both of these are correct.

Whose book is it?

It's Paul's book.

It's Paul's.

Note that if the name ends in an 's' then we can either place the apostrophe after the 's' or add it to the end as normal:

It's Denis' book / It's Denis's book.

It's Denis' / It's Denis's.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by fatimaashraft38 on Wed, 25/02/2015 - 11:43

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Hello, I am checking a teacher's notebook and I saw following question in it. Please let me know if it is correctly worded because I think it is not: :What preparation Charles did for battle of rivers? thank you

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 25/02/2015 - 20:08

In reply to by fatimaashraft38

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Hello fatimaashraft38,

You are correct that that sentence is not correct. The correct form would be:

How did Charles prepare for the Battle of...

You would need to complete this with the correct name of the battle, which I do not know - you will need to check this as 'battle of rivers' is certainly not correct.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Monica68 on Thu, 29/01/2015 - 10:19

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Hi there! I found these questions: 'How many people used the subway in 2004? How many people cycle in NY?' and I was wondering why you don't use the auxillary did/do to make the questions. Is it perhaps because 'How many people' is the subject and you use the same rule as with who/what/which as subject in questions? I mean questions like: 'What happened?', where 'what' is the subject. Thank you very much for a reply