Questions play an important role in English conversation. Without enough skills or command over the formation of questions, none can gets fluency in English. Therefor in today’s lesson, we discuss the formation of five common types of questions in English grammar. Details on how to form or use these 5 types of questions are given below :
Five Common Types of Questions :
They are General or Yes/No Questions, Indirect Questions, Special or Wh-questions or 5 W questions using Wh-words, choice questions and tag/tail questions. There is also another type of question that is called Negative question.
Indirect Questions : This type of question is mainly used to ask for or request for something politely when one do not know well the person from whom something is being sought. Forming this question is also easy : add just a phrase before the direct question. Look at the sentences below :
Direct question : Which bus goes to Dhaka Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport? In indirect format, it can be expressed with different ways. Look at the dialogue below :
A : Could you please tell me which bus goes to the airport? Or Do you know which bus goes to the airport?
B : Oh! sure. There are several services that travel to the airport. Just take one and get to the airport. Ok.
A : Thank you very much. Well, do you know how much the fare it?
B : Sure. It’s not that much, just 30 taka. Ok.
A : Thank you again.
B : It’s ok.
Another example of indirect to direct question :
Direct question : How much will this book cost me? The indirect one to this is : Could you please tell me or do you know how much this book will cost me?
Note : both direct and indirect questions are used to ask for information. Also keep in mind that in indirect question, the verb ‘to be’ like am, is, are, was, is placed at the end of the sentence. Look at the following sentence :
Where’s the Shah Amanat International airport? (direct question)
The indirect question is : Could you please tell me where the airport is?
Choice Questions : Choice questions offer a choice of several options (to pick one from several options) as an answer. They are usually made up of two parts connected by the conjunction or. Note that when the question does not centre on the subject of the sentence, the answer is a bit long. On the other hand, when it is the opposite (the question focuses on the subject) the answer is usually short. To understand better, look at the sentences below :
1. Which brand smartphone do you want to buy, Samsung or Huawei? I want to buy one to Samsung.
2. My little daughter, what do you want to take, a nice toy or a nice dress? I prefer a nice dress (to a toy)
3. Does she like chocolate or sweets? – No, she likes neither of them. She likes ice cream very much.
4. Where do you want to go this weekend, to Sylhet or Cox’s bazar? – I would prefer Cox’s bazar.
5. Who has made the mistake, you or Karim?——– Karim. (In the sentence the focus is on the subject, so the answer is short)
Also note that when the question is about the subject, the auxiliary verb comes before the second option. In this case, The answer is usually short. See the sentences :
1. Have you self broken the screen of smartphone or has your son? — My son have this. (broken the screen)
2. Does your wife make the bed or do you? —Usually my wife does. (the full answer is my wife make the bed)
Negative Question : This type of question is used for confirmation just like tag questions. This question usually carries the word not or a negative verb contraction such as didn’t (did not), wasn’t, weren’t (were not), hasn’t, haven’t etc. See the sentence :
1. Haven’t you heard the sad news? At least 70 people including women and children died in a massive fire at a building in old Dhaka. (making confirmation by the speaker)
2. Haven’t you got the news? One of our friends Rahul is going to the USA for higher study. He has just got the visa.
We can use Negative Question to express surprise that something you expect to happen hasn’t happened yet. Look at the sentence :
Hasn’t your daughter got (returned) home yet? She has left the school at 4 P.M. So it’s been 5 hours since.
Basic Way to Form Negative Verb Contraction : did, have, were, was, etc + n’t such as didn’t, haven’t, weren’t etc.
Tag or Tail Questions :
Quite like negative questions, Tag questions are also used for confirmation, clarification of information or something and refutation of something (refusal or denial to accept claims) when there are doubts. Tag question also has two parts. When the first part is a positive statement, then the second part or tag question must be negative, or vice-versa that means if the first part is negative then the tag question should be positive. Note that this type of question is only used in spoken or conversational English only. Also note that the tag question is usually placed at the end of the sentence. Look at the following short dialogue :
A : You have invited the staff of the Cambrian education group at the programme, haven’t you? (asking for confirmation)
B : Yes, I have. They are all attending the programme.
A : Thank u. oh! You have also sent a special invitation card to the chairman of the group, haven’t you?
B : Yes, I have.
A : Well done. Well, You yourself aren’t missing the programme, are you? (asking for confirmation)
B : No, I am not. (giving confirmation that means the person ‘B’ is attending it)
See other examples also :
- You have already taken the lunch, haven’t you? ——— Yes, I have.
- Your child does not like chocolate, does she? (here she is used to refer to the child as the speaker knows the gender of the child. If the speaker does not know it, then it should be used to refer to the sex of the child like does it?)
- Our boss e-mailed an invitation, didn’t she? – Yes, she did. (here also the speaker knows the sex of the boss)
- Karim is ill today, isn’t he? —-Yes, he is. (giving confirmation) or No, he isn’t (refuting or denying)
- You will accompany me to the party tomorrow, won’t you? (won’t is the short form of will not that is mostly used)
There are some exceptions to the usual tag questions. Look at the following sentence :
- I am a bit ill today, aren’t I? – Yes, you are. Or no, you aren’t.
- I am a good person, aren’t I? Yes, you are.
- I am not a good student, are I?
Note that when ‘I’ is the pronoun in a sentence, the tag question is formed with are/aren’t depending on the sentence.
General or Yes/No Questions :
Questions that are answered with a simple Yes or No are called General or Yes/No questions. The answer to a question can be brief and given with just Yes or No. But the answers can be a bit longer like Yes, I do or No, I don’t etc. Note that the answer to a question depends to the verb used in the sentence. Also note that in asking such type of questions, voice is raised (rising intonation) at the end of the sentence. Look at the following sentences :
- Do you like me? — Yes. Or Yes, I do.
- Does your mother know that you have failed in the exam?— No, she doesn’t. or Yes, she does.
- Are you going to school today despite being ill? —-Yes, I am. Or No, I am not.
- Do you know the man over there in red hat? —Yes, I do.
- Will you accompany me to the market? —No. or No, I will not. Or Yes, I will.
- Are you thirsty? —- Yes, I am. Or No, I am not.
It has been mentioned above that the answers to such questions depend on the verbs in the sentences. If the question begins with ‘to be’ verb like am, is, are, was, were, then answer will be like Yes, I am/he is/they are, or No, I am not/he isn’t/they aren’t etc. The formation of answer is similar regarding auxiliary verbs like Yes, I will/he will/she will/they will or No, I haven’t/they haven’t/she hasn’t or Yes, I did/she did/they did/they didn’t/she didn’t etc. look at the following sentences :
- Have you finished the work?—- Yes, I have. Or No, I haven’t.
- Did kamal go to college yesterday?— No, he didn’t. or Yes, he did.
- Will you buy Samsung brand smartphone this time too? —- Yes, I will. Or No, I will not. I will buy a Huawei brand phone this time.
Note : 1. Be careful about forming or giving longer answers to Yes or No Questions as it is a bit tricky in making short answers with ‘to be’ verbs or ‘auxiliary verbs.’ 2. Auxiliary verbs have got many other interesting and important uses in speaking English like they are used to emphasize something. See the following sentence :
- Are you thirsty? —- Yes, I am! (putting emphasize by the auxiliary verb ‘am’) .
Special or Wh-Questions :
These type of questions are formed with question words who, what, when, where, how, whose etc. placed at the beginning of sentences. This question pattern is also known as 5-W questions and we use this pattern to get specific information. In questions, voice should be raised at the end of the sentence (rising intonation). Look at the sentences below :
- What’s your father’s name? (asking for specific information)
- Who is knocking on the door please?
- Where are you from?
- There’s a pen on the table. Whose is this?
- How much does this book cost you?
Note that after the question words ‘who and what’, the third person singular form of the verbs (verb+s or es like go+es) is used. In that case, the sentences are usually in the present form. See the examples :
- Who goes to the cinema?—-Kareen and I go to the cinema.
- What’s on the table?——— Several new books written by someone are on the table.
Note that though the verbs after the question words who and what are singular, the verb in the answer can be either singular or plural depending on the subject. Ok. Remember that special questions are also called 5-W questions as they are mainly formed with Who, What, Where, How and When. But that doesn’t mean that special questions are formed only with these five words.