Interrogative sentences are an important part of English. On this page, you will learn everything about asking questions in English.
How to form an interrogative sentence with examples
In interrogative sentences, we usually put the subject after the first verb. We change the position of the subject and the verb,
John will make his bed
Will John make his bed?
|Question Word||Auxiliary Verb||Subject||Main Verb||Rest of sentence|
The question word is optional and it depends on if it is an open or a closed question. There are also other types of questions which you can learn more about below.
10 interrogative sentences and examples
Open-Ended interrogative sentences
Open-ended interrogative sentences are very common in English. This is a question when you want to get more information about something. We often invert the subject and the verb and add a question word.
There are 8 question words in English.
What is used to ask for more information about people or things. When you don’t know something you can use What.
What is in that cake?
What is she doing
What do you do?
We also use what when we are surprised. We often just shout What…??
We use What…for to ask for the reason similar to Why.
What did you do that for?
What is that tool for?
We use Where to show the location or place.
Where is my car?
Where are you now?
Where are you going?
Where can I buy a new car?
We also use Where to ask at what stage of a process/situation you are at.
Where are you on the Jefferson report?
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
We use Who to discover the subject of the action. For example. Peter joined the football team. But…. If we don’t know that Peter joined then we ask the question Who joined the football team? (See below for why we don’t use “did” in this sentence)
Who scored the winning goal in the World Cup final?
Who is the best singer at the moment?
Who painted your house?
We use When to describe the time of a situation or event.
When did you buy your guitar?
When did Peter and Jane start dating?
When did you watch Batman?
We use Why to discover the reason for something.
Why did you quit running?
Why did you buy that phone?
Why do we need curtains?
We use Which when there is a choice to make
Which football team do you support?
Which do you prefer? tea or coffee?
Which musical instrument do you want to play?
We use whose to ask who owns something.
Whose bag is this?
Whose sunglasses are these?
Whose bike is this?
We use How to describe the process so another person can understand.
How do you tie a shoelace?
How did he do that?
How do you download a video from Youtube?
Other Types of Interrogatives
Yes/No questions are closed questions. The answer to these questions is usually some form of Yes/No or Maybe. We usually ask these questions when we want to confirm something. They start with the auxiliary verb(do, be, have or modal verb)
Did you have fun last night? Yes
Are you from Ireland? Yes
Have you ever been to Disneyland Paris? Yes
Can you cycle a unicycle? No
A question tag is a sentence with a question at the end. It’s used to check or confirm that you’ve understood something correctly.
The restaurant is lovely, isn’t it?
We also use question tags to confirm things that we think are true.
You have done your homework, haven’t you?
Contractions are very common in negative tags. We also use the subject pronoun instead of the subject in the tag.
The meaning of a question tag depends on the way that you say it.
If your intonation goes down, then you are not asking a question, you are just asking the listener to agree with you.
Big Messi fan: Messi is the best player in the world, isn’t he.
If your intonation goes up, then you are asking a question.
If a question is open or closed, it is usually a direct question and an interrogative sentence(you use a question mark). An indirect question is when a question is part of a larger sentence. You need to use a question mark only when the sentence starts with a question asking word(do, can, would, etc)
|Direct Question||Indirect question|
What time is it?
Do you know what time it is?
Where is the shopping center?
Can you tell me where the shopping center is?
Who took the money?
I don’t know who took the money.
Notice that we do not invert the subject and the verb when we ask the question as an indirect question.
Negative questions are not that common in English like in other languages like Portuguese.
We often use negative questions when you are surprised. Imagine a situation very important like a divorce. John and Mary got a divorce and you are at a party. Your friend asks John about Mary and John feels uncomfortable. Then you say to your friend.
Didn’t you know John and Mary got divorced??
Another common negative question is with the word “Why”
Why don’t we try the new fish restaurant tonight?
Why weren’t you at work yesterday?
Now that you know how to ask questions and use interrogative sentences, why not book a class on Cambly and ask your teacher some questions?