Sergey Sulimov

Author:

Sergey Sulimov

Types of questions in English

Interrogative sentences are an important component of any language. Everyday communication and drawing up even the simplest dialogue in the course of learning a language will not be possible without them. There are five types of interrogative sentences in English.

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General questions

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You make this question when you want to get some general information. Most of the times this question can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.

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To make a general question, use the formula:

Auxiliar verb + Subject + Predicate + Other parts of the sentence + ?

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Do you walk in this garden?

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This sentence starts with the auxiliary verb “do”, then comes the subject “you”, followed by the predicate expressed by the semantic verb “walk”, and then other parts of the sentence.

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There are three auxiliar verbs in english: to be, to do and to have. They show us the tense and the number and are subject to change. “To do” can change to “do” and “does” (in the present), “did” (in the past); “to have” changes to “have” or “has” (in the present), “had” (in the past); “to be” changes to “will” (in the future). 

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If you use the verb “to be” in thr present or past tenses, then there is no need for an auxiliar verb. The same goes to modal verbs, the modal verb goes at the beginning of the sentence. 

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Will you walk in this garden?

Can you read this book?

Are you a student?

You can answer a general question briefly or with a complete response. 

Do you walk in this garden? — Yes. / Yes, I do. / Yes, I walk in this garden.

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Special questions

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With this question you want to receive some specific information. For this types of questions you will want to use interrogative pronouns: what (qué), why (por qué), where (dónde), how (cómo), how long (durante cuánto tiempo), which (qué, cuál), when (cuándo). We will talk about them in more detail in the next article. 

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Generally you can use this formula:

Interrogative pronoun + Auxiliar verb + Subject + Semantic verb + Other parts of the sentence + ?

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When do you walk in the garden?

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First we have the interrogative verb “when”, then the auxiliar verb “do”, the subject “you”, semantic verb “walk”, and the other parts of the sentence “in the garden”. 

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The English language has lots of phrasal verbs with prepositions. When we make a special question with such a verb the preposition goes at the end of the sentence. 

What are you waiting for?

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Subject questions

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This is a subtype of special question. For this types of questions we use the interrogative pronouns “who” and “what”. It’s separated into a different category because it has its own word order:

Interrogative preposition + Semantic verb + Other parts of the sentence + ?

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Who walks in the garden?

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So, after the interrogative pronoun we keep the standart word order like in a normal narrative sentence. You replace the subject with the interrogative pronoun “who”, then goes the semantic verb “walks”, and the rest of the sentence “in the garden”. 

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Take note: in the present tense the semantic verb matches with the form of the third person.

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What is going on?

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To answer a question like this we must replace the interrogative pronoun with the corresponding subject.

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Mary walks in the garden.

Nothing is going on.

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Alternative questions

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When we ask this type of question we give the other person a choice between two options. You can use the next formula:

Auxiliar verb + Subject + Semantic verb + The other parts of the sentence + Or ?

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Alternative questions are similar to general questions by its structure, the only difference is the use of the conjunction “or” in the required place. 

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Do you walk in the garden or in the park?

Do you walk or cycle in the park?

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This questions usually receive a full answer.

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Disjunctive questions

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Use this question if you want to clarify, confirm, or make sure of something. 

Use the next formula:

Affirmative sentence + interrogative “tag” + ?

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You walk in the park, don’t you?

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This kind of questions are sometimes called “tag” questions, and the biggest difficulty is to make the “tag” right. Its structure goes like this:

Auxiliar verb corresponding to the predicate of the first part + subject of the first part.

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And remember, if the first part was afirmative, the second part will be negative, and in reverse, negation in the first part requires afirmation in the second one.

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She gets up very early every day, doesn’t she?

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First we have the semantic verb “gets” and subject “she”, that’s why in the second part we use the semantic verb “do”, we change it to the corresponding form “does” and we make it negative “doesn’t”, and at the end we add the subject from the first part “she.”

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How to form questions in English correctly

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So, the main question types in English are: general, special, subject questions, alternative, and disjunctive. To make a question we must change the word order in the sentence, except for the subject questions. In the disjunctive questions the order also changes, but in the second part. 

To make an example we will transform a sentence into all five types of questions:

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My sister walks in this park every day.

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Types of questions Question Answer
General question Does your sister walk in this park every day? Yes, she does.
Special question Where does your sister go every day? My sister walks in the park every day.
Subject question Who walks in the park every day? My sister does.
Alternative question Does your sister walk in the park or near the river every day? My sister walks in the park every day.
Disjunctive question Your sister walks in the park every day, doesn’t she? Yes, she does.

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To undertand better how to make questions in English and to have some practive, it’s better to do it with a teacher in groups. In the school EnglishPapa you will have you will have plenty of possibilities to master everything and to choose the learning format that suits you the most. An online test and a free lesson are already avaliable for you.

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