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20 Questions

Practice the formulation of closed questions

by Lynne Hand

This is a good game to play at the end of a course. Your students should know enough vocabulary to be able to enjoy playing this game.

Your students should understand the difference between open and closed questions.

You can take the role as games master, or students can take it in turns.

The Rules

The games master has to think up a word.

The word should be something real: either animal / vegetable / or mineral.

The players have to guess the word using Yes/No (closed) questions.


The first questions to ask should be very broad:-

Is it animal? (This covers mammals, birds, amphibians, fish etc)

Is it vegetable? (This covers any plant, fungus etc..)

Is it mineral (If it isn't alive, doesn't grow, comes from the ground etc.)

Then move on to more general questions:-

Alive / Dead
Edible / Inedible

You get the idea.

Only closed questions should be answered. The games master's responses must be a straight "yes" or "no" answer, but they can include adverbs like, "usually," "sometimes," or "rarely."

"Yes" answers don't count towards the 20 questions, and the person who asked it can ask another question, until they get a "No" answer.

Every "No" answer counts against the 20 questions.

Someone has to keep track of the number of "No" questions.

If the group is strong enough, the person who guesses the word correctly has to think up the next word.

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