[Questions] – Lesson 1: Forming questions

Structures of questions
If there is an auxiliary (helping) verb (be, have, can, will, etc.) we put it before the subject (he, she, I, etc.) Is anybody in the office?
Have you ever visited London?
What time Will they be here?
If there is no auxiliary (helping) verb, we put do, does or did before the subject. Do you know my older brother?
Did he come in time?
We put wh- words (when, where, why, who, how,etc.) at the beginning of the question. How long have you been waiting for me?
Where is their office?
Which colour do you like best?
We don’t use do, does or did when we use what, which, who or whose as the subject. What happened to you?
Who told you about it?

 

Questions – common mistakes
Common mistakes Correct version Why?
What meant you by saying that? What did you mean by saying that? If there is no auxiliary (helping) verb, we put do, does or didbefore the subject.
You like this film? Do you like this film?
Where you are going this afternoon? Where are you going this afternoon? We put an auxiliary verb before the subject.
You did read the letter? Did you read the letter?
Who did give you the information? Who gave you the information? We don’t use do, does or didwhen we use what, which, whoor whose as the subject.
Does he knows your sister? Does he know your sister? When there is an auxiliary verb, the main verb is in the infinitive form.
Where will she studies? Where will she study?
Can you tell me where can I buy a good camera? Can you tell me where I canbuy a good camera? Word order in indirect question is the same as in a normal sentence: SUBJECT + VERB + …

 

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[Question] – Lesson 3: Structures of indirect questions

An indirect question is when a question is ‘inside’ another question.

Take a simple scenario: we stop someone in the street and ask: “Where is the supermarket?” This is what we call a direct question.

However, let’s say that we begin with Can you tell me? or Do you know? Our original question is now ‘inside’ the new question: Can you tell me where the supermarket is

You will see that the word order has now changed because technically the question is now Can you tell me? not Where is? This is what we call an indirect question.

Word order in indirect questions
Word order in an indirect question is the same as in a normal statement sentence:
SUBJECT + VERB + …
Direct question Indirect question
Where can I buy ink for the printer? Can you tell me where I can buy ink for the printer?
Can you tell me where can I buy …
Why do you want to work for our company? He asked me why I wanted to work for their company.
He asked me why did I want to …
What is the number of the last invoice? I’m calling to ask you what the number of the last invoice is.
I’m calling to ask you what is the number of 
How much did it cost? Do you know how much it costs?
Do you know how much did it cost?
How did it happen? Did she tell you how it happened?
Did she tell you how did it happened?

[Questions] – Lesson 2: Question words

Question words
Question word Asking for / about … Example
What … ? information, type What’s your name?
What is an oak – a tree or a plant?
When … ? time, day, year, etc. When were you born?
When are you coming – today or tomorrow?
Why … ? reason Why are you so tired?
Why don’t you go to bed?
Which … ? choice We have fruit tea and green tea – whichwould you like?
Who … ? a person, a name Who wrote War and Peace – was it Tolstoy?
How … ? method, quality, condition How do you travel to work – by bus or by car?
How was the soup?
How are you today?
Whose … ? possession, owner Whose is this pen? Is it yours or mine?
Whom … ? [formal] a person, name Whom did you see?

Whom is very formal and is not often used in spoken English. Most native speakers use who:

  • Whom did you see? [formal written, formal spoken English]
  • Who did you see? [standard spoken English]