Asking Questions

Asking questions is easy if you remember the following word order:

1. “Wh” question word (when necessary)
2. Auxiliary (helping) verb
3. Subject of the sentence
4. Main verb

Remember the question word order and use it to formulate your questions.

There is one type of question which is an exception to the above order and will be explained later.

The two types of questions.

1. “Yes/No” questions are questions which can be answered with a simple yes or no.
2. “wh” word questions which can’t be answered by a yes or no.

Following is a list of the “wh” words used in “wh” word sentences.

“Wh” Question Words

• Who
• When
• Why
• Where
• What
• How

Before we look at the Yes/No questions, we must be aware of and make certain to remember these relationships between questions and answers.

1. Use the correct noun or pronoun in gender and number in both the question and the answer. (Is he smart? Yes, he is smart.)

2. Use the correct tense in the question and the answer. (Was Jane sick? Yes, Jane was sick.)

3. When using an auxiliary verb in the past the main verb should be in the present tense. (Did he run away yesterday?)

4. Use the correct verb when answering a question. (Are you happy? No, I am not happy.)

5. Use the proper intonation. Yes/No questions use rising intonation at the end of a sentence and “Wh” questions use falling intonation at the end of a sentence. (Are you ↑hungry? Why are you ↓hungry?)

Yes/No Questions

These are questions that can be answered with a yes/no answer and do not use a “wh” question word.
Word order: Auxiliary verb (helping verb) Subject Main verb
Do cats drink milk?
Were you watching TV this morning?
Will you shut the window, please?
Is he leaving for work now?
Was she speaking to me?
Will Tom be going on holidays next week?

“Wh” Questions

Word order: Question wordAuxiliary verb (helping verb)SubjectMain verb → object (if needed)
What do cats drink?
How does a computer work?
When will the train arrive?
Why were they laughing at me?

The following is the one exception that I mentioned earlier. When the main verb is a form of the verb “to be”, the main verb comes before the subject, not after it.

Yes/No questions where the main verb is “to be”

Word order: Main verbSubject
Are they hungry?
Is he at home?
Were your friends at the party?
Was Janet at home this morning?

Remember the Word Order


subjectauxiliary verbmain verb He was working hard at the office.


Auxiliary verb subject main verb –  Was he working hard at the office?

Wh question

Wh wordauxiliary verb subjectmain verb – Why was he working hard at the office?

Wh statement – I don’t know why he was working hard at the office.

Wh statement in a question – Do you know why he was working hard at the office?


See Also:

Answering Negatively Formed Questions\

Asking Questions Quiz

Forming Questions Quiz

Word Order Quiz

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