understanding questions english conversation

Understanding Questions


           A question is a sentence that asks for information. There are several kinds of questions in English. Being aware of the different types of questions can help you know what kinds of information people are asking for and how to response. Understanding questions and being able to form questions are necessary for successful conversation.

Yes/No Questions

We ask this type of question when the expected answer is either yes or no. Yes/No Questions begin with auxiliary verbs and the verb be, for example are, is, do, does, did, was, were, have, will, would, can, and should.

Are you from around here?Yes, I am. / No, I’m not.
Did she grow up in Malaysia?Yes, she did. / No, she didn’t.
Can they sing and dance?Yes, they can. / No, they can’t.
Is this bus going downtown?Yes, it is. / No, it isn’t.
Should we buy our tickets online?Yes, we should. / No, we shouldn’t.


DOES and DID take the simple form of the verb


Convert the following statements into questions.

1.They are learning English.Are they learning English?
2. It is raining.
3. She is French.
4. He has finished his his report.
5. She was born in 1997.
6. They were at home yesterday.
7. Sam can cook dinner for us.
8. She will buy a new car.
9. She should wear a uniform.
10. They have visited Singapore.
11. The children would like to play.
12. He could visit her in the evening.
13. I do like swimming.
14. Pam does not like her boss.
15. The computers did not work.
16. You like music.
17. We traveled together.
18. He worked hard.
19. She lives in New York.
20. They stayed for 2 hours.

QUIZ 1: Understanding Questions

Wh- Questions

We use Wh– questions to ask for specific information, such as a person’s name, a price, where to meet someone, or the time an event starts or ends. Wh– questions begin with words such as what, when, who, where, why, which, whose, how, how many, how much, how long, and how often.

1. What’s your name?It’s Roger Maxwell.
2. When was she born?She was born on March 16, 1997.
3. How long have they lived there?They lived there for about six years.
4. Why didn’t you call me?Sorry, I lost my phone.
5. Who is your English teacher?Mr. Summers is my English teacher.


Match the questions with their corresponding answers.

Column AColumn B
1. What do you do?a. fifty dollars
2. Who did you go out with last night?b. thirty-five
3. Where do you live?c. fine, and you?
4. When’s your birthday?d. Maria and Teddy
5. Why are you wearing a suit?e. I’m a teacher.
6. How many students are there in the class?f. The Times
7. How much did you pay for your shoes?g. It’s today.
8. How are you?h. I’m sure it’s mine.
9. Whose money is this?i. In a flat at the town center
10. Which newspaper do you read?j. because I’m going to an expensive restaurant


QUIZ 2: Google Form (your teacher will send you the link).

Alternative Questions

An alternative question includes two or more answer choice within the question itself. We can usually recognize an    alternative question by the word or.

1. Are you a junior or a senior?I’m a junior.
2. Does he live on or off campus?He lives on campus.
3. Did they sign up for the 9:00 or 1:00 class?The 9:00 class.
4. Do you usually drive or take the bus to work?I usually drive.
5. Is Charles English or Australian?I think he’s Australian.

Be careful! Some questions may look like alternative questions, but they are actually Yes/No questions.


             Do you have any brothers or sisters? Yes, I have 2 brothers, and a sister./ No, I don’t have any.

This question is asking about both brothers and sisters, not a given choice.


StatementsAlternative questionsResponses
1. Mark can sing/dance.Can Mark sing or dance?He can sing.
2. Parrots can talk/sing.
3. Squirrels have short/long tail.
4. You like kittens/puppies.
5. She is eating an apple/cake.
6. Simon bought a pen/a pencil.
7. They cleaned the table/chair.
8. He took the motorbike/car.
9. He walks his dog/cat everyday.
10. She is from the Philippines/ Malaysia.

QUIZ 3: Google Form (your teacher will send you the link).

Embedded Questions

An embedded question is included within another question.


Using an embedded question can have a “softening” effect and often sound more polite than a direct question.


            Where is the post office?  vs.  Can you tell me where the post office is?

Embedded questions look like Yes/No questions, but the expected answer is usually more than just yes or no. We generally answer yes or no and then add more information.


            A: Do you know when Tom’s birthday is?

            B: Yes, I think it’s March 5.

Do you know what time it is?Sure. It’s 4:30.
Can you tell me who those people are?Sorry. I don’t know.
Do you have any idea if this class is full?Yes, it’s completely full.
Could you tell me when the next train is?It’s at 2:30.



Common introductory question phrasesDirect questions Embedded questions
May I know…Where do you live?May I know where you live?
Who knows…How old are you?Who knows how old I am?
Would you mind telling me…Why are you here?Would you mind telling me why you are here.
Do you know…What time is it?Do you know what time it is?
Do you remember…What does this word mean?Do you remember what this word mean?
Do you think …Can we dine out tonight?Do you think we can dine out tonight?

Common introductory statement phrasesDirect questionsEmbedded questions
Let me know…What do you think?Let me know what you think.
I don’t know…What are you talking about?I don’t know what you are talking about.
I have no idea …What does he look like?I have no idea what he looks like.
I wonder …How much is that red dress?I wonder how much that red dress is.
I/She/He/They asked …Can they turn on the sound system?I asked if they can turn on the sound system.
I would like to know…Where is the supermarket?I would like to know where the supermarket is.
I’m not sure…Did he come late this morning?I’m not sure if he came late this morning.
The question is…Do we have the money for it?The question is if we have the money for it.
Let’s ask…Do they like the room?Let’s ask whether they like the room (or not).

QUIZ 4: Google Form (your teacher will send you the link).

Tag Questions

Tag questions ask for confirmation or agreement. They consist of a statement and a tag.

In an positive sentence, the tag is negative. In a negative sentence, the tag is positive. Tags always use same verb tense as the statement.

Positive statement + negative tagResponseNegative statement + affirmative tagResponse
It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?Yes, it is./ No, it’s not.You didn’t do your homework, did you?Yes, I did. No, I didn’t.
Ann lives near here, doesn’t she?Yes, she does. No, she doesn’t.. They haven’t traveled overseas, have they?Yes, they have./ No, they haven’t.
You can read Arabic, can’t you?Yes, I can. No, I can’t.He shouldn’t drive, should he?Yes, he should. No, he shouldn’t.


StatementTag question
Kate won’t be late, will she?
You’re tired,
You travel a lot,
You weren’t listening,
Sam doesn’t know Anna,
Henry’s on holiday,
You can speak Japanese,
They won’t mind if I take a picture,
There are a lot of people here,

QUIZ 5: Google Form (your teacher will send you the link).

Understanding Questions

Re-write the words in the correct order to make questions.

1 / 10

English/ time/ lesson/ your/ start/ what/ does?

2 / 10

is/ birthday/ when/ your?

3 / 10

your/ best/ see/ did/ friend/ when/ last/ you?

4 / 10

is/ where/ the/ classroom?

5 / 10

glasses/ in/ of/ many/ day/ water/ you/ how/ drink/ a/ do?

6 / 10

meat/ don't/ eat/ you/ why?

7 / 10

come/ does/ mother/ where/ your/ from?

8 / 10

in/ many/ there/ family/ how/ are/ your/ people?

9 / 10

friends/ cook for/ often/ you/ how/ your/ do?

10 / 10

go/ shopping/ where/ did/ you?

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