What are questions? Questions are used to get information from someone. Questions are different from statements in two ways. A statement is used to give information, questions are used to get information. The grammar of a question is different, and voice inflection is different.(Inflection is how you say the words in a sentence.)
How do we use inflection in a sentence? When we ask a question, our voice is slightly different. We raise our voice at the end of the sentence. This tells the listener that you are asking for information. Sometimes this is all that is needed. Look at this example.
Question: Where did you leave the milk?
This answer is also a question In the kitchen?
because it is said like this
The second speaker is really saying 'Did I leave the milk in the kitchen?'
You will often hear English speakers talk in this way when they answer the phone by saying 'Hello?'
First we have to revise some grammatical terms.
Auxiliaries: These are the words that go with the main verb to make up an English verb tense. For example, in the sentence 'I was walking' the word 'was' is an auxiliary.
Modals: Modals tell you if something can be done, might be done, or should be done. In fact, in that last sentence can, might, and should are all modals!
When you make a statement, the subject usually comes before the main verb and its auxiliary or any modals.
Fred has gone to school.
Where 'Fred' is the subject, 'gone' is the main verb, and 'has' is the auxiliary.
When you make a question, you put the auxiliary before the subject.
Has Fred gone to school?
Now the auxiliary 'has' is before the subject 'Fred'.
If we have a modal in the sentence we put that before the subject to make our question.
Fred might have gone to school.
becomes the question:
Might Fred have gone to school?
As you continue studying English, you will see that we do not get sentences with the verb to be as the main verb in sentences which have auxilaries or modals.
So if we have the verb 'to be' in the sentence we put that before the subject to make our question.
Fred is at school.
becomes the question:
Is Fred at school?
All these questions are called 'simple questions' because they only allow you to answer with 'yes' or 'no'.
So if our friend Sally is going to have a party, the only question we can ask is 'Is Sally going to have a party?'. If we want to discover more about the party, we need to use question words.
Question words are what we put at the start of the sentence so that the person we are speaking to knows what kind of information we want.
We are going to make some more questions about Sally's party.
What is asking for information about a thing.
Question: What is happening on Saturday night?
Answer: A party.
Which is asking for information about one of many.
Question: Which Saturday is Sally's party on?
Answer: The Saturday at the end of next week.
Who is asking for a person or many people.
Question: Who will be at the party?
Answer All of Sally's friends.
Why is asking for a reason.
Question: Why is there a party?
Answer: Because Sally passed her exams.
Where is asking for a place.
Question: Where is the party?
Answer: At Joe's house.
When is asking for a time.
Question: When is the party?
Answer: At nine o'clock in the evening.
How is asking for a method.
Question: How go I get to the party?
Answer: I will take you in my car.
Often English people use just the question word to ask someone for more information. (But remember that this is not very polite.)
Someone came to see you today.
Your book is in the bedroom.
You should come early.
Multiple part questions are when there are several different kinds of information that you want, so you ask for all the information in a single question.
Who are you and what do you want?
When did he come and why didn't you call me?
You can see that each question is really two separate questions joined by the linking word 'and'. Therefore each part has the normal grammar of a direct question.
Question tags are easy, aren't they?
Question tags are used when the speaker wants you to agree with him. All you are expected to reply is 'yes' or 'no'. A question tag is formed by taking the modal/auxiliary/verb 'to be' (the example above uses the verb to be as 'are'). This is put before the subject pronoun (they).
If the the statement is a negative one, the question tag should be positive.
They do not come often, do they?
Expected answer: No
And if the statement is positive, the question tag is negative.
They come often, don't they?
Expected answer: Yes
So do you think that you understand questions? You have done the grammar of simple questions and you have learned to use question words to find the information you want. You have learned to use one-word questions, and questions with several parts. You have done question tags.
Now are you ready to do some exercises?