Forming Questions

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Welcome to your Forming Questions lesson! In this topic we talk about:
• How do I form a simple question?
When not to use auxiliaries
Positioning prepositions
Negative questions
Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.

How do I form a simple question?

With questions, we normally put the subject after the auxiliary:

Do you like ice-cream?”

Auxiliary + Subject + Verb + Compliment

Remember that with the Present Simple and the Past Simple, when we use the verb “be”, it replaces the auxiliary:

“Are you hungry?”
(not Do you are hungry?”)

“Were you at home?”
(not Did you were at home?”)


The auxiliaries for the Present Simple are “do” and “does”:

Does Marie like the beach?”

Do you have a minute?”

I / You / We / They → do
He / She / It → does

The auxiliary for the past simple is “did”:

Did you go hiking last week?”

Did I tell you about the party?”

When not to use auxiliaries

When your question is about finding the subject, we do not use “do”, “does” or “did”:

“Who phoned last night?”
(not “Who did phone last night?”)

“What happened yesterday?”
(not “What did happen yesterday?”)

“How many people came to the restaurant?”
(not “How many people did come..?”)

“Which bus arrives at nine?”
(not “Which bus does arrive at nine?”)

Positioning prepositions

Prepositions are placed after the verb, or after the subject if the verb is “be”:

“Who do you want to go with?”

“What was the walk like?”

“Which dish did you ask for?”

“Where is he from?”

With questions starting with “who”, you can use preposition + whom to sound more formal:

With whom would you like to speak?”

To whom are you referring?”

Negative questions

Here are a few examples of negative questions:

Didn’t you say you were French?”

Don’t you want to go out tonight?”

Doesn’t she look nice?”

Negative questions are used to show surprise, or when we expect the listener to agree with the question:

“Don’t you want a tea?”
(I’m surprised that you don’t want it.)

“Haven’t we been here before?”
(I’m sure we’ve been here before, I’m sure you remember.)

Be careful when responding to negative questions:

“Didn’t you say you were French?”
“No.” (No I didn’t say that) ↔ “Yes.” (Yes I did say that)

“Don’t you want a tea?”
“No.” (No I don’t want one) ↔ “Yes.” (Yes I do want one)