Think about how boring your language would be if everyone spoke the same way. If there were only one way of saying everything and if you didn’t say it that way, you were just plain wrong. People would not be able to express their personalities and conversations would be a lot more boring.

So, we have a few different ways to ask for or check information. Here are a few of the different ways that you can ask questions in English.

1) Inversion for asking Yes/No questions in English

Inversion means to swap the order of two things in a sentence. To make a question, we often swap the subject and the auxiliary verb. This makes a closed question so the answer is likely to be yes or no.

For example, I should go to the party becomes Should I go to the party? when you swap the subject (I) and the auxiliary (should).

If the sentence has no auxiliary such as I work hard, just add the correct form of “do”. Do I work hard?

2) Using question words to get the information you want

We use words like who, what, where, when, why, how, whose (+noun), which/what (+noun), how much/many (+noun) with inversion to create open questions. Open questions are questions that ask for more information than just yes or no.

3) Using intonation to ask questions in English

You can make just about any sentence into a question just by using the correct intonation. Try saying, He is a doctor with standard intonation. Now, try adding extra stress to doctor and raising the pitch at the end of the sentence and it becomes He is a DOCTOR? (sounds like he doesn’t look smart enough to be a doctor).

4) Using tag questions to check information

We use tag questions to check information. If I am meeting someone for the second time, I might casually say, Your name is Megan Fox, isn’t it?

To make a tag question, just add the inverse form of the auxiliary verb and the appropriate pronoun (he, she, it, they, etc). The inverse form of the auxiliary means that if the auxiliary is positive, add the negative, but if it is negative, add the positive. Don’t forget to use intonation on the tag to make it sound natural.

5) What are rhetorical questions?

Rhetorical questions are questions that don’t need an answer. When you stand in front of a large crowd and start your speech with, Man is truly a remarkable creature. Have you ever seen a monkey programming a computer to fly a space rocket? You don’t actually expect anyone to say, Well, no, I haven’t.

A common example is, What do you think I am, stupid? Best not to answer this question. Ever.

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