English Grammar Guide

Simple Questions

Question forms are very important aspects of English grammar because, quite simply, without questions there would be no conversation.

Yes / No questions

Simple questions which require a simple 'yes' or 'no' answer can may be formed in three different ways:


1. Questions with 'Do'.

A simple yes / no question can be formed with the auxiliary verb 'Do', using the following constructions:

  • Present tense positive questions:     Do/Does + Subject + verb infinitive....

  • Present tense negative questions:   Don't/Doesn't + subject + verb infinitive...

  • Past tense positive questions:         Did + subject + verb infinitive...

  • Past tense negative questions:        Didn't + subject + verb infinitive...

Examples:

  • Do you want to go to the cinema?

  • Does she work in London?

  • Don't you like fish?

  • Did he eat breakfast this morning?

  • Didn't they visit the museum?

Note:  We never use "do/does" before the verb "to be" or before modal verbs in questions. Instead, we invert the subject and verb:

  • Are you coming to my party?

  • Was the film good?

  • Weren't you hungry?

2. Questions with Inversion

With certain verbs ("to be", "to do", "to have", and modal verbs) questions are formed by inverting the subject and object.

  • Is Paolo busy?             (Inversion of the statement 'Paolo is busy)

  • Have you seen this film?      (Inversion of the statement 'You have seen this film)

  • Would you like to go to the cinema?       (Inversion of the statement 'You would like to go to the cinema)

  • Will they be here soon?

  • Can I read this book?

  • Won't you stop talking?

3. Questions with question tags:

In spoken English, a question tag can be used after a statement, using the verb 'To Be', an auxiliary or modal verb, to form an add-on question. The question tag asks the listener to confirm the statement that it follows. If the statement does not use the verb 'to be' or a modal verb, we use 'Do' in the question tag. The question tag is usually an inversion of the subject and verb, repeated at the end of the sentence.


After an affirmative statement, a negative question tag is used:

  • He'd like to see this film, wouldn't he?

  • You would like to have dinner with us, wouldn't you?

  • You can understand that, can't you?

  • You're French, aren't you?

  • You like pasta, don't you?

After a negative statement, an affirmative question tag is used:

  • You wouldn't want to walk home, would you?

  • She won't be back, will she?

  • You aren't French, are you?

  • You don't like cheese, do you?

Information Questions


Question words - Interrogative adverbs

Questions which ask for information are formed by using the interrogative adverbs (question words) when, why, how, how much, where, etc.
The normal construction is:    Question word + Auxiliary + Subject + Infinitive:

  • Where are you going?

  • Why do you like him?

  • How much does this cost?

  • How did you break the window?

  • When were you born?

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