Formation of questions

It is important to know how to form questions. The rules given below apply to almost all written questions and most spoken questions.

Auxiliary verb before subject

In questions, the auxiliary verb comes before the subject. Note that if there are two auxiliary verbs, only the first comes before the subject. Study the examples given below.

  • He is writing. (Statement)
  • Is he writing? (Question)
  • That was a wise decision. (Statement)
  • Was that a wise decision? (Question)
  • They have arrived. (Statement)
  • Have they arrived? (Question)
  • She has been invited. (Statement)
  • Has she been invited? (NOT Has been she invited?)

This sentence contains two auxiliary verbs, but we have already learned that only the first auxiliary verb comes before the subject in a question.

  • She should have been more careful. (Statement)
  • Should she have been more careful? (Question)

Cases where there is no auxiliary verb

Affirmative sentences in the simple present and simple past tense do not have an auxiliary verb. We use do, does or did to change them into questions.

Note that do and does are used in the present tense. Do is used with plural nouns and the pronouns I, we, they and you. Does is used with singular nouns and the pronouns he, she and it.

Did is used in the past tense with both singular and plural nouns and pronouns. Study the examples given below.

  • She works at a factory.

This statement is in the simple present tense and it doesn’t have an auxiliary verb. When we change this statement into a question, we use does as the first word. Note that we use does because the subject is a third person singular pronoun.

  • Does she work at a factory? (NOT Does she works at a factory?)