In English, there are four types of questions: general or yes/no questions, special questions using wh-words, choice questions, and disjunctive or tag/tail questions.
Let’s look at each type in more detail.
GENERAL OR YES/NO QUESTIONS
Common questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” are logically called yes/no questions.
As a rule, this kind of question relates to the whole sentence, and not to a separate element of it.
- Do you like this country? –
- Does Jane know about your new job? –
- Can I call my sister? –
- Is it cold outside? –
- Are they ready for the trip? –
- Are you hungry? –
To ask such general questions, the appropriate rising intonation should be used at the end of the sentence.
The answer can be a brief “yes” or “no.” Or, a longer answer can be given: “Yes, I do.” “No, I don’t like this country.” The response to a question depends on the verb used.
Try to remember this formula: answer the question the way it was asked.
If the question begins with a form of the verb “to be” – am, is, are – then answer “Yes, I am/he is/they are,” or “No, I am not/he isn’t/they aren’t.”
It is similar to auxiliary verbs (do/does, did, will, have/has):
- Did she clean the room? – Yes, she did/No, she didn’t.
- Have you done your homework? – Yes, I have/ No, I haven’t.
- Will you buy that dress? – Yes, I will/ No, I won’t.
SPECIAL OR WH-QUESTIONS
A special question, as you can guess, uses a certain word at the beginning of the sentence. The questions words who, what, where, when, why, how, how many, etc., are used to begin the question:
- Where is he from? –
- When did you come here? –
- How did you meet her? –
- How many eggs do we need for this cake? –
- Whose children are playing in the yard? –
Note that questions about a subject (who? what?) have their own special structure; they do not require an auxiliary verb, we replace the subject with the question word.
- We go to the cinema. – Who goes to the cinema?
- The glass is on the table. – What is on the table?
- Most girls here wear skirts. – Who wears skirts here?
You can see that after the question words who and what, the third-person singular form of the verb should be used.
We use special questions to get specific information. This implies that the answer will be more detailed.
Choice questions are questions that offer a choice of several options as an answer. They are made up of two parts, which are connected by the conjunction or.
Choice questions can be either general or specific. If the question does not centre on the subject of the sentence, a complete answer is needed.
- Does she like ice cream or sweets? – She likes ice cream.
- Where would you go, to the cinema or the theatre? – I would go to the cinema.
- Is he a teacher or a student? – He is a student.
However, when the question concerns the subject, the auxiliary verb comes before the second option. The answer is short:
- Does she make it or do you? – She does.
- Did they buy that house or did she? – They did.
- Ted’s advice wasn’t clever.
- They had to go to school on Saturday.
- He won’t be able to speak Italian in two months.
- They are not going to meet him.
- She mustn’t take these pills.
- She won’t have to write the exercise again.
- He couldn’t swim last summer.
- She has to wear a uniform.
- She will be able to make sandwiches tomorrow.