Questions

In English, there are different types of questions. In this lesson, you will get to know them briefly and see some examples for each type. Are you ready?

"Questions" in the English Grammar

What Is Considered a Question?

Everything we say or write that needs an answer is called a question. In writing, questions are usually followed by a question mark.
In technical terms, we call questions 'interrogatives' in grammar.

Intonation of Questions

When you want to express a question verbally, notice that questions have a particular type of intonation that tells the listener that you are expecting a response.

Types of Questions

There are many types of questions in the English language. Here are some of the different types of questions in English:

  • Yes/No questions
  • 'Wh' questions
  • Alternative (also called 'choice') questions
  • Indirect (also called 'embedded') questions
  • Rhetorical questions
  • Statement questions
  • Two-step questions
  • Follow-up questions
  • Echo (also called checking) questions
  • Negative questions
  • Tag (also called disjunctive) questions

Yes/No Questions

Yes/No questions are the most basic type of questions in English grammar. We can only answer these types of questions by 'Yes' or 'No.' However, we can sometimes (but not always) add a longer answer to them.

Is Carla your sister?

Do you know a good restaurant downtown?

'Wh' Questions

'Wh' questions start with the wh question words (words that begin with wh). These words are: why, when, where, what, who, whose, which (how is also considered a wh-word.)

What do you do for a living?

Where is the nearest pharmacy?

Alternative Questions

Alternative (also called choice) questions ask the listener to choose between two or more options. These options are linked to each other by the conjunction 'or.'

Do you prefer to wake up early or late?

Does she like spaghettis or lasagna?

Indirect Questions

Indirect (also called embedded) questions are the types of questions that are not asked directly. Instead, they are embedded within another sentence or question.
The most common uses of these questions are in polite questions or reported speech.

Can you tell me where he plays tennis?

Do you know what time it is?

Rhetorical Questions

Rhetorical questions do not require any answers. They are merely used as expressions or reactions to persuade the listener or to produce the desired effect on them.

Duh... Is the sky blue?!

Do you want to be a failure for the rest of your life?

a choice question

Statement Questions

Statement questions are declarative sentences (statements) that are used to ask yes/no questions. These sentences have a different intonation when used as a statement or as a question.

Jackson is getting married?

He's your brother?

Two-step Questions

In informal or spoken English, sometimes we ask two questions together. The first question is kind of an introduction for the listener. They tend to make the first question less direct:

Do you like your job? I mean, do you enjoy it?

What are we playing tonight? Poker?

Follow-up Questions

Especially in spoken English, when the speaker(s) and the listener(s) know the context of the conversation, people often shorten the wh-questions in conversation:

'I've decided to work part-time.' 'What for?'

'I'm going out.' 'Who with?'

(Who are you going out with?)

Echo Questions

Usually, echo (also called checking) questions are statements with a wh-word at the end.
When we do not understand what we have just heard or when we want to confirm what we have heard, we use echo questions.

'Paul's getting married again.' 'Paul's getting married again?!'

'He's moving to Rome'. 'He's moving to Rome?'

Negative Questions

A negative question usually starts with negative contracted or uncontracted verbs. Contracted and uncontracted negative questions have different word order.

Aren't you coming? or Are you not coming?

Didn't you see Brian at the party?

Negative questions are ordered in such a way that require a 'no' response for an affirmative answer and a 'yes' response for a negative answer.

Tag Questions

Tag (also called disjunctive) questions can transform a statement into a yes-no question. Normally, the tag questions contain an affirmative main clause and a negative tag, or a negative main clause and an affirmative tag.

Myra makes the best chocolate cake, doesn't she?

He's not a very good friend, is he?

Review

Questions are interrogative sentences that are used to ask for information about things, people, etc. Here are different kinds of questions:

Yes/No questions Are you having fun?
wh questions Where are you from?
Alternative questions Do you travel tomorrow or next Monday?
Indirect questions Do you know where they are?
Rhetorical questions Why am I dating you?
Statement questions He is cheating on you?
Two-step questions Which one is better? Working or studying?
Follow-up questions Take a look at this hat! Which one?
Echo questions 'Mira is in the China' 'Mira is in China?'
Negative questions Don't you come?
Tag questions She is fabulous, isn't she?

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