Do you know where the train station is? No. Do you know where is the train station? No. Which one is correct and why? Let’s find out.
Hi everyone. Today we are talking about how to ask questions correctly in English. Asking questions in English is a very important skill to have because you need to ask questions in many different situations. For example, at work, at school and when you’re shopping.
So in today’s English lesson you are going to learn how to make and use the three main question types in English. They are yes and no questions, WH- word questions and question tags. Make sure you watch until the end of the video because there will be a quiz to test your understanding. So if you’re ready to learn how to ask questions correctly, let’s get started!
In English we normally have three types of sentences. The first is called a statement. A statement is a sentence which gives us information. For example, ‘They have a dog.’
The second type of sentence is a command. A command is a sentence which tells someone or something what to do. For example, if I say to you ‘Open the door’, that means I want you to open the door.
And the third type of sentence in English is a question which we will be talking about today. A question is a sentence which asks for information. For example, ‘What time is it?’
The first type of question we will talk about today is the yes no question. They’re called yes no questions because if someone asks a yes no question, the answer is normally ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Now to make a yes or no question, the structure is an auxiliary verb plus the subject plus a main verb plus the object. An auxiliary verb is sometimes known as a helping verb. Some common examples of auxiliary verbs are ‘do’, ‘have’, ‘will’, ‘is’ and ‘are’. Please note that the main verb can be any tense. For example, it can be verb 1: ‘eat’. It can be verb 2: ‘ate’. Or it can be verb 3: ‘eaten’.
Now let’s have a look at some examples. Do you have a dog? In this sentence, ‘do’ is the auxiliary verb. ‘You’ is the subject. ‘Have’ is the main verb. And ‘dog’ is the object. Easy, right? Now to answer this question we can say ‘Yes I do’ or we can say ‘No I don’t’. Again, that’s why these are called yes or no questions. Because the answer is either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Now note here that you can change the words in this sentence to change the meaning. You could say ‘Do you like chocolate?’ And again, the answer is either ‘Yes I do’ or ‘No I don’t’. Now let’s look at some more common examples of yes no questions.
Number one. Do they like English?
Number two. Can you speak French?
Number three. Are you ready? Now with this sentence, we are using the verb ‘to be’ as the main verb. So we put the verb ‘to be’ at the start of the sentence.
Number four. Is your dad from Canada?
Number five. Are you watching the movie?
Number six. Have you been to China?
Number seven. Has your child gone to school?
Number eight. Did you go to the party?
Number nine. Were you eating?
Number ten. Will you call me tomorrow?
WH- word questions
The second type of question is the WH- word question (apart from the word ‘how’ because ‘how’ starts with a H). So let’s just quickly talk about what the WH- words are and what they mean.
What. ‘What’ is used to ask information about something. For example, ‘What is it?’
Which. ‘Which’ is used to ask about something when there are only a specific number of answers. For example, ‘Which doctor did you see?’
When. ‘When’ is used to ask about the time of something. For example, ‘When did you go?’
Where. ‘Where’ is used to ask about the location of something. For example, ‘Where is the restaurant?’
Who. ‘Who’ is used to ask about people. For example, ‘Who did it?’
Why. ‘Why’ is used to ask the reason for something. For example ‘Why are you studying English?’
How. ‘How’ is used to ask about the way or method of doing something. For example, ‘How do you make pizza?’
How much. ‘How much’ is used to ask for the amount of an uncountable noun. For example, ‘How much water do you have?’
How many. ‘How many’ is used to ask about the amount of countable nouns. For example, ‘How many beaches have you been to?’
How often. ‘How often’ is used to ask about the frequency of something. For example ‘How often does the train come?’
To make a WH- word, the structure is a WH- word plus an auxiliary verb plus a subject plus a main verb and then plus an object. For example, ‘Why do you have a dog?’
In this sentence, ‘why’ is the WH- word. ‘Do’ is the auxiliary verb. ‘You’ is the subject. ‘Have’ is the main verb. And ‘dog’ is the object. Easy right?
When answering WH- word questions, we don’t answer by saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’. We answer by giving a full sentence answer. For example if someone says, ‘Why do you have a dog’ you can say ‘I have a dog because …’ and then you give your reasons.
The final type of question we are going to talk about today is called a question tag. We use question tags when we think we know something but we just want to check again. We want to confirm that what we think is right and correct.
For example, let’s pretend that I think you speak Chinese. I could say ‘You speak Chinese, don’t you?’
Question tags are very easy to make. They have two parts. The first part is a statement and the second part is a tag. Remember we talked about before what a statement is. A statement is a sentence which gives information. It is not a question. If the statement is positive, then the question tag will be negative. If a statement is negative, that means it normally has the words ‘no’ or ‘not’ in it. If a statement is positive, that means it normally doesn’t have the words ‘no’ or ‘not’ in it. Now if the statement is negative, then the question tag will be positive.
So you just have to remember that the statement and the question tag, they have to be opposite. They can’t be the same. We can’t have a positive and a positive or a negative and a negative. They must be opposites.
So in our first example, ‘You speak Chinese’ is a statement. It’s a positive statement. And ‘Don’t you’ is a question tag. It’s a negative question because we have the word ‘not’ in it. So now let’s have a look at some more common examples and talk about them right now.
Let’s pretend that I think you can play tennis. What is the statement? The statement is ‘You can play tennis.’ Now to make the question tag, we simply use the auxiliary verb or the modal verb from the statement and turn it into the opposite. So what’s the modal verb in ‘You can play tennis’? It’s ‘can’, right? So now we need to change ‘can’ to the opposite which is ‘can’t’. And then we add the subject after ‘can’t’ and add that onto the first sentence. So we can say ‘You can play tennis, can’t you?’
What about if I said ‘You can’t play tennis’? What would the question tag be? It would be ‘can you’. You can’t play tennis, can you? We have changed ‘can’t’ to the opposite which is ‘can’ and then we have added it as a question tag.
Now let’s look at some more common examples so you can see how to use question tags with lots of different words.
Number one. It is hot today, isn’t it?
Number two. You’re going to the gym, aren’t you?
Number three. We have been there before, haven’t we?
Number four. You don’t like pizza, do you?
Number five. We won’t go today, will we?
Number six. The car was built here, wasn’t it?
Number seven. The party has started, hasn’t it?
Number eight. You love playing golf, don’t you?
Number nine. Your friend works at the airport, doesn’t he?
Number ten. They went to America last year, didn’t they?
You can see here that with all of these sentences, the question tag is just the opposite of what is in the sentence. For example, ‘It’s hot, isn’t it?’ You don’t, do you? The car was, wasn’t it? And please note if there is no auxiliary verb in the sentence, you normally have to use the correct form of the verb ‘to do’ to make the question tag.
For example, ‘They went to Canada.’ ‘Went’ is in the past so what is the past tense form of the verb ‘to do’? It’s ‘did’, right? And the opposite of ‘did’ is ‘didn’t’. so that is what we would use in the question tag. So the full sentence would sound like this. They went to Canada, didn’t they? They went to Canada, didn’t they? You see? Easy, right?
Alright we have learned a lot of information about asking questions today so now let’s have a little quiz to test your understanding. You will see 10 questions on the screen. For the first five questions, I want you to use the correct WH- word and for the second five questions, I want you to use the correct question tag. The questions will only be on the screen for five seconds so pause the video and then click play when you are ready to see the answers. Are you ready? Good luck!