Monday, March 22, 2010

Interrogative Sentences: Asking a Yes/No Question

As you know, there are two kinds of questions in English , Yes / No Questions and Information Questions ( Wh- questions) .

Asking a Yes/No question is simple when compared to asking a Wh- question . In this post, I am going to discuss how Yes/No questions are framed in English .

Well, what is a Yes/ No question? It is a question which requires yes or no as answer .The basic structure of all Yes/No questions is the same . It can be expressed as follows:

auxiliary +subject+ main verb+ (complement)+(object)+(adverbial).

The items given in round brackets are optional . You need use them only if the context requires them . Their order, however, should not be disturbed!

I am giving below a few examples of Yes/No questions .

1 Are you a student?


2 Has she finished her job?


3 Have you sent her the e-mail?

aux+subject+verb+indirect object+ direct object

4 Did you see her yesterday?

dummy aux+subject +verb+object+ adverbial

5 Can she speak French?

modal aux+subject+verb+object

6 Shall I help you?

modal aux +subject+verb+object

7 Did you see her off at the airport yesterday?

dummy aux+subject+verb+object + particle+adverbial of place + adverbial of time

8 Need I accompany her to the airport?

modal aux+ subject+ verb+object+adverbial

9 Shall I make you some tea ?

modal aux+ subject +verb+ indirect object+ direct object

10 Have you had your lunch?

aux+ subject+verb+object

If you take a closer look at these examples , you will notice the following points:

1 The auxiliaries are primary auxiliaries like have, be or do , or they may be modal auxiliaries like shall, will, can need etc

2 The tense of the questions is determined by the tense of the first auxiliary

3 When the question makes use of simple present or simple past tense , the auxiliary is do, does or did . They are called dummy auxiliaries. These tenses have no auxiliaries in their verb- forms .
4 When be is the main verb in a question, it does the job of both the auxiliary and the main verb .

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