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Grammar Books

Asking English Questions

Simple Guide to Asking Closed Questions in English

Overview | Closed questions | Open questions | Rhetorical questions | Tag questions | Direct / Indirect Questions
What are closed questions?

Closed questions demand a yes/no, true/false or right/wrong answer.

When we want to ask yes/no questions we can use do/does, am/is/are or have/has as question words.

  • We use do or have or am with personal pronouns (I).
  • We use does or has or is with third person singular pronouns (he, she, it) and with singular noun forms.
  • We use do or have or are with other personal pronouns (you, we they) and with plural noun forms.

Yes/no questions with the verb be are created by moving the verb be to the beginning of the sentence. In other words the subject and the verb change their positions in statements and questions.

Statement:
I am from England.
Question:
Am I from England?

When forming questions in the present continuous tense use the verb to be.

I am speaking English.
=
Am
I
speaking English?
You are speaking English.
=
Are
you
speaking English?
He is speaking English.
=
Is
he
speaking English?
She is speaking English.
=
Is
she
speaking English?
It is speaking English.
=
Is
it
speaking English?
We are speaking English.
=
Are
we
speaking English?
They are speaking English.
=
Are
they
speaking English?

When forming questions in the present simple tense use the verb be, do, or have. The auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.

To Be

If there is one verb in the statement and the verb is a form of be , simply switch the positions of the subject and verb.

I am English.
=
Am I English?
You are English.
=
Are you English?
He is English.
=
Is he English?
She is English.
=
Is she English?
It is English.
=
Is it English?
We are English.
=
Are we English?
They are English.
=

Are

they English?
To Do

If there is one verb in the statement and the verb is do, simply switch the positions of the subject and verb.

I
do.
=
Do
I?
You do.
=
Do
you?
He does.
=
Does
he?
She does.
=
Does
she?
It does.
=
Does
it?
We do.
=
Do
we?
They do.
=
Do
they?
To Have

If there is one verb in the statement and the verb is have, (with or without got to show possession), switch the positions of the subject and verb.

I
have
(got) an English book.
=
Have
I
(got) an English book?
You
have
(got) an English book
=
Have
you
(got) an English book?
He
has
(got) an English book
=
Has
he
(got) an English book?
She
has
(got) an English book
=
Has
she
(got) an English book?
It
has
(got) an English book
=
Has
it
(got) an English book?
We
have
(got) an English book
=
Have
we
(got) an English book?
They
have
(got) an English book
=
Have
they
(got) an English book?

We can also form this style of question with Do…have…? here there is no subject-verb inversion, do is placed before the subject.

I
have breakfast every morning.
=
Do
I
have breakfast every morning?
You
have breakfast every morning.
=
Do
you
have breakfast every morning?
He
has breakfast every morning.
=
Does
he
have breakfast every morning?
She
has breakfast every morning.
=
Does
she
have breakfast every morning?
It
has breakfast every morning.
=
Does
it
have breakfast every morning?
We
have breakfast every morning.
=
Do
we
have breakfast every morning?
They
have breakfast every morning.
=
Do
they
have breakfast every morning?

If there is one verb, and the verb is not a form of be, the process is more complex. To form a question add the correct form of the verb 'to do' to the beginning. Here there is no subject verb inversion.

I
speak English.
=
Do
I
speak English?
You speak English.
=
Do
you
speak English?
He speaks English.
=
Does
he
speak English?
She speaks English.
=
Does
she
speak English?
It speaks English.
=
Does
it
speak English?
We speak English.
=
Do
we
speak English?
They speak English.
=
Do
they
speak English?
 
Answering a Closed Question

For example:

Q: "Are you from England?"

You can answer with "Yes" or "No".

You can also answer closed questions with a slightly longer answer "Yes, I am." or "No, I'm not."

You can also answer closed questions in the long form "Yes, I am from England." or "No, I'm not from England."

Finally, you can be mean when answering closed questions.

For example:

Q. "Have you got the time?"

A. "Yes, thank you."

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