How To Ask Questions In English

Do you get tongue tied when you have to ask a question in English?
Do you worry about the order of words and how to structure the question?
Do you feel under confident when asking questions in English?
What kind of questions do you normally need to ask in English?
Asking questions in English is actually very easy and if you structure your question well you will succeed asking questions and getting the replies you need!
The basic rule for asking questions in English is simple think what you want to ask-
think about the sentence structure especially- how you use your adjectives and prepositions.
Think about who you are asking – is it a formal or informal question?
Most questions have a Who , What, How or Why element.

  • Who is the best hairdresser in town?
  • What time is the next train to London?
  • How do I get to town?
  • Why is there no school today?

Keep your questions short and sweet.

Ask short direct questions, like ”What time is the next bus to the station?” rather than explanations or stories.
If you are looking for answers to two different subjects, ask two different questions. Don’t try to ask too much in one question.

When writing down the question don’t forget to use a question mark at the end of the sentence, instead of a full stop, and when asking the question out loud raise the tone to change the intonation so that the person you are talking to understands that you are asking a question and not stating a fact.

Do remember that all of the questions you ask should have a reason for being asked – you are either asking the question to collect facts or asking the question to form an opinion. So, the most important lesson to be learnt when trying to structure a question is to think carefully about what sort of information you are looking for and only then to carefully build your question accordingly.

In the below examples you can see how a question is created by changing the structure of the sentence:

  • It is snowing. – Is it snowing?
  • He can speak English. – Can he speak English?
  • They have lived in this house for a long time. – Have they lived in this house for a long time?
  • She was driving fast. – Was she driving fast?

We know how hard it is when trying to ask for something in a language we are unfamiliar with, and the struggles to make ourselves understood. With Live-English we work with you to increase your confidence so that when you need to ask for something in English you will be able to do so without worrying about making mistakes. The below examples will help with basic situations that most people will find themselves in:

  • How do I get to the train station?
  • What time does the bus depart?
  • Can you direct me to the best Italian restaurant?
  • Please, can I see the menu?
  • What do you recommend?
  • May I have the bill?

If you are unsure how to ask questions spend some time in your English conversation lesson practicing how to ask questions – your teacher will be happy to role play with you and suggest questions which you can use in many situations.

Vocabulary

  • Form an opinion /: (phrase) make up one’s mind or decide what one thinks about something.
  • Intonation: (noun) the rise and fall of the voice in speaking.
  • Structure: (verb) arrange or organize according to a plan.
  • Tongue tied: (adjective) too shy or embarrassed to speak.

    Contributor: Teacher Lisa

    Lisa is an online English tutor from Glasgow, Scotland. She has over fifteen years’ experience in public relations, media management, writing, editing and teaching. Lisa loves the English language and likes to share that love with all her students. When she is not working Lisa loves the theatre, swimming and traveling as much as being a busy mother of three young children will allow her!

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