Information Questions*

Information Questions

April 4, 2019

Native English Instructor

Written by Douglas Shaw

Questions are normally used to get information about a person, place or thing: Question words are also called wh questions because they include the letters ‘W’ and ‘H’.

1: If you need to ask about the subject of the sentence, add the question word at the beginning.

e.g.

  • John lives there. – Who lives there?

2: If you ask about the part of the sentence which contains the verb and gives information about the subject, there are three ways.

1: Auxiliary verb that precedes the main verb (can, is, are, was, were, will), add the question word – swap the subject and auxiliary verb.

  • e.g. He can speak Indonesian – What can he speak?
  • e.g. They are leaving tonight. – When are they leaving?

2: If you ask about the predicate(the part that expresses what is said of the subject) and there is no auxiliary verb and the main verb is “to be”, add the question word – swap the subject and verb.

  • e.g. The movie was interesting. – How was the movie?

3: If there is no auxiliary verb in the predicate and the main verb is not “to be”, add the auxiliary verb “do” in the correct form.

  • e.g. He wakes up early. – When does he wake up?

When: is used to ask questions about time.

Where: is used to ask questions about place.

Why: is used to ask questions about reason.

How: 

  • generally asks about manner.
  • is used with much and many.
  • is also used with adjectives and adverbs.
  • how long: asks about length of time.
  • how often: asks about frequency.
  • how far: asks about distance.

Who:

  • is used as the subject of a question. Referring to people.
  • is usually followed by a singular verb even if the speaker is asking about more than one person.

Whom: is used as the object of a verb or preposition. In spoken English, whom is rarely used. It is used only in formal questions.

Whose: asks questions about possession.

What:

  • is used as the subject of a question. It refers to things.
  • is also used as an object.
  • what kind of: asks about the variety or type of something.
  • what + a form of do: is used to ask questions about activities.
  • may be with a noun.
  • what + be like: asks for a general description of qualities.
  • what + look like: asks for a physical description.

Which:

  • is used instead of what when a question concerns choosing from a definite, known quantity or group.
  • in some cases, there is little difference in meaning between which and what when the accompany a noun.

e.g.

  • Which: Which class are you in?
  • What: What class are you in?



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