In English, there are two basic types of questions: Yes / No questions and Wh– questions. Yes / No questions are also called closed questions because there are only two possible responses: Yes or No. When forming a Yes / No question, it must include one of these verbs: BE, DO, HAVE, or a modal verb. It is impossible to ask a Yes / No question without one of these verbs.
|Are elections next year?|
|Does he want to stay?|
|Have the boys eaten?|
|Can the dog swim?|
Use the verb BE to ask Yes / No questions about the identity or description of a person, place, or thing.
|Am I your friend?||Yes. / Yes, you are. / Yes, you are my friend.|
|Is this a good restaurant?||No. / No, it is not. / No, it is not a good restaurant.|
|Are these islands Greek?||Yes. / Yes, they are. / Yes, these islands are Greek.|
|Was his idea interesting?||No. / No, it wasn’t. / No, his idea was not interesting.|
|Were they happy?||Yes. / Yes, they were. / Yes, they were happy.|
Note that the response can be short (Yes. / No.), or long: Yes or No followed by the subject and verb.
Use the verb BE with a preposition to ask Yes / No questions about a present or past location.
|Am I at the correct location?||No. / No, you aren’t.|
|Are the keys under the books?||No. / No, they are not.|
|Was his house on an island?||Yes. / Yes, it was.|
|Were the demonstrations in the center of town?||No. / No, they weren’t.|
Use the verb BE to ask a Yes / No question about a current activity or situation. This requires the present progressive: BE + (verb+ing).
|Am I going with you and Tom?||Yes. / Yes, you are.|
|Is she working today?||No. / No, she isn’t.|
|Are we seeing a play tomorrow?||Yes. / Yes, we are.|
Use the verb BE to ask a Yes / No question about a past activity or situation. This requires the past progressive: WAS / WERE + (verb+ing).
|Was it raining?||Yes. / Yes, it was.|
|Were they playing?||No. / No, they weren’t.|
Use the verb BE to ask a Yes / No question with the passive voice.
|Is gold mined in Canada?||Yes. / Yes it is.|
|Are flowers grown here?||No. / No, they are not.|
|Was the book read?||Yes. / Yes, it was.|
Use the verb HAVE to ask if somebody has done something or if some action has taken place. Note that these Yes / No questions use the present perfect (HAVE + past participle).
|Has your brother left?||No. / No, he hasn’t.|
|Have you driven before?||Yes. / Yes, I have.|
|Has the party started?||Yes. / Yes, it has.|
Use the verb DO to ask Yes / No questions in order to obtain facts about people, places, or things.
|Do they smoke?||No. / No, they don’t.|
|Does it rain here?||Yes. / Yes, it does.|
|Did the key work?||No. / No, it didn’t.|
Use modal verbs to ask Yes / No questions about possibilities or uncertainties.
|Can we stay?||Yes. / Yes, we can. / Yes, we can stay.|
|Could this be true?||Yes. / Yes, it could (be true).|
|Should they stop?||No. / No, they shouldn’t (stop).|
|May I help you?||Yes. / Yes you may (help me).|
Remember: When asking Yes / No questions with DO or a modal verb, the main verb remains in the base form (without to).
|Do you drink coffee?|
|Does she work here?|
|Can I go with you?|
|Should we email her?|
However, if there are two verbs that follow DO, the second verb remains in the infinitive (with to).
|Do you want to drink coffee?|
|Does she like to work here?|
|Did you need to go home?|
Note that there are several ways to answer Yes / No questions, especially when using contractions.
|Is he busy?||No.|
|No, he isn’t.|
|No, he’s not.|
|No, he is not.|
|No, he isn’t busy.|
|No, he’s not busy.|
|No, he is not busy.|