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Making Questions in English

Woman and people with signs that say can i help

Making questions is the most important thing in English speaking. As you know, most of the conversations start with a question. Here are some tips to learn the art of question making.

Basic rule of making questions

The basic  rule for asking questions in English is to invert the order of  the subject and the first auxiliary verb.

Subject + Auxiliary + Verb. = Auxiliary + Subject + Verb?

  • He is reading book. = Is he reading book?
  • It is snowing. = Is it snowing?
  • He can  speak German. = Can he speak German?
  • They  have lived here a long time. = Have they lived here a long time?
  • She  will arrive at ten o’clock. = Will she arrive at ten o’clock?
  • He was driving fast. = Was he driving fast?
  • You  have been smoking. = Have you been smoking?

No Auxiliary Verb?

If there is  no auxiliary, use part of the verb ‘to do’. In this case, to do acts as an auxiliary verb. Remember to use the correct tense and form of to do (do, does, did)

Subject + Verb = Do/does/did + Subject + Verb

  • You speak fluent French. = Do you speak fluent French?
  • She lives in Brussels. = Does she live in Brussels?
  • They lived in Manchester. = Did they live in Manchester?
  • He had an accident. = Did he have an accident?

WH- Questions

When you make questions with WH- questions (*), we will keep the same rule but we add WH- question to the beginning of the questions.

  • When were you in Paris?
  • Why don’t you come?
  • Where do you work?
  • How many did you buy?
  • What time did you go?
  • Which one do you like?
  • Whose car were you driving?
  • Who are you talking with?

Note who, what and which can be the subject. Let’s compare the difference:

  • Who is coming to lunch? (who is the subject of the verb)
  • Who do they want to invite to lunch? (they is the subject of the verb)
  • What  happened? (what is the subject of the verb)
  • What  did you do? (you is the subject of the verb)
  • Which is wrong? (which is the subject of the verb)
  • Which car does he drive? (he is the subject of the verb)

Note the position of the prepositions in these questions:

  • Who did you speak to?
  • What are you looking at?
  • Where does he come from?

(*) WH- Questions are What, Where, When, Which, Who, Whose, Why, How

Other lessons on making questions


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