Introduction to questions

In any language, obtaining information can be complicated. To get information from another person requires the ability to ask questions. There are two primary forms of questions:

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In English, the word order of a sentence usually follows this pattern:

subject verb object
He eats apples.
They drink coffee.

However, word order changes in both types of question. Note that in the question the subject follows the verb but in the response the verb follows the subject. Here are examples with closed questions.

Yes / No question   Response
verb subject     subject verb  
Is John here? Yes, he is here
Are they Costa Rican? Yes, they are Costa Rican.

Here are examples with open questions.

Wh– question   Response
  verb subject subject verb  
Where are Tom and Susan? Tom and Susan are there.
When was the party? The party was yesterday.

In the following examples, the questions are formed with auxiliary verbs . Note that in the question the subject is placed between the verbs. In the response, both verbs follow the subject.

Yes / No question   Response
aux.
verb
subject main
verb
  subject aux.
verb
main
verb
Has the rain stopped? Yes, the rain has stopped.
Have they eaten? Yes, they have eaten
Should they go? Yes, they should go.
Can he stay? Yes, he can stay.

Questions formed with the auxiliary verb DO are different. The auxiliary verb is absent in the response. Here are examples with closed questions.

Yes / No question   Response
aux.
verb
subject main
verb
    subject main
verb
 
Do they eat meat? Yes, they eat meat.
Does the bank open at 9:00? Yes, the bank opens at 9:00.

Here are examples with open questions.

Wh– question   Response
  aux.
verb
subject main
verb
  subject main
verb
Where does Mario work? He works at home.
When did Helena leave? She left yesterday.

Remember: the verb DO is essential for asking questions with all verbs except the verb BE and modal verbs. Learn more about forming questions with the verb DO .

Related lessons:

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