What Are Yes/No Questions?
Yes/No questions need either a yes or a no as the answer. Because of this limitation in response, they are also called closed questions. They are used to seek confirmation or denial of a situation, fact, or opinion.
Forming Yes/No Questions with Auxiliary Verbs
In order to form a yes/no question, we must use one of these verb:
When we do not have 'be' or 'have' or a 'modal verb' in the sentence, we must use the auxiliary do/does/did.
|No Auxiliary||Using Auxiliary|
|We usually go to the park.||
|He liked ice cream a lot.||
'Be' as a Main Verb
Do not use an auxiliary verb when 'be' is the main verb of the sentence.
Does she be your sister?")
What If We have More Than One Auxiliary Verb?
If you have more than one auxiliary verb or a modal verb + one or more auxiliary verbs, put the first auxiliary or modal verb before the subject and the others after it. The structure is as follows:
auxiliary verb (1) + subject + auxiliary verb (2) + main verb
modal verb + subject + auxiliary verb (1) + auxiliary verb (2) + main verb
have been I recording this show?)
Never put the main verb before the subject (only put auxiliary and modal verbs before it).
Where did he
hide he the box?)
Forming Yes/No Questions Without an Auxiliary Verb
When you want to ask Yes/No questions using 'be' as the main verb, do not use an auxiliary verb. In this case, simply invert the subject and verb so that the structure is like be + subject.
When the main verb of our yes/no question is 'have' as an action verb and not an auxiliary, we can also use the word order verb + subject, but note that it sounds rather formal.
This sentence sounds formal.
If you want to sound less formal or neutral, you can use 'have got' or 'do'.
This sentence sounds neutral.
This sentence sounds informal.
If 'have' is used as a main verb and we want to ask questions in the past tense about possession, we use the auxiliary verb 'did' rather than 'had ... got'. Pay attention to the examples:
This sentence sounds more natural.
This sentence is less common.
Other than saying 'yes' or 'no' in response to a yes/no question, there are some other, more informal alternatives.
|Instead of Yes||Instead of No|
'Is he really your son?' '
'Can you do the dishes?' '
Occasionally, we use yes/no + subject + verb.
'Have you seen Jennifer?' '
'Are you Liza?' '
Or even longer answers, like:
'Have you seen Jennifer?' '
'Are you Liza?' '
Sometimes we can add more information to the single yes or no answer.
'Do you want to come to the party with me?'
Sometimes we can answer a yes/no question without actually saying 'yes/no'. Instead, we can say sentences that mean 'yes' or 'no'. For example:
'Do you know Brad?' '
'Do we have any apples in the fridge?' '
Sometimes we answer a yes/no question by using the auxiliary verb from the question instead of yes or no.
'Did you call Mom today? '
Negative Yes/No Questions
We can form a negative yes/no question with 'not'. Normally in spoken English, we use the contraction n't. We can use the full form of 'not' as well, but the question may sound very formal.
Negative Yes/No Questions: Uses
We usually use negative Yes/No Questions in the following contexts:
- when we want to check or confirm something we believe or know to be true;
- when we think something is the best option to do;
- when we want to make invitations, offers, and complaints.
Sometimes we can use declarative sentences (statements) to ask yes/no questions. In speech, these sentences have a different intonation depending on whether they are a statement or a question.
In writing, we distinguish between them by using a question mark (?) for questions or a period (.) for statements.
We can form both affirmative and negative statement questions.
Statement Questions: Uses
We use statement questions in the following contexts:
- when we want to confirm or check something we know to be true (falling intonation);
- when we want to express surprise (rising intonation).
'So, tomorrow is mother's day?'
'Manfred proposed.' 'He proposed?!'
Yes/ No questions are named like this because the answer to them is either 'yes' or 'no'. The general structure is to put the auxiliary (also auxiliary modal verbs) at the beginning of a sentence and then scramble the sentence, and at the end, a question mark is needed.
Here are auxiliary verbs that are used to make yes/no questions.
In short answers, you have to use only the subject pronoun and the auxiliary verb. And you are not allowed to use contractions in affirmative short answers.
Is she your mother?
Yes, she is. (NOT Yes,
Look at the examples for yes/no questions.
Are they going to dinner together?
"Yes, they are. They are going to dinner together."
"No, they aren't. They aren't going to dinner together."
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