There are two types of direct questions: wh-questions
(that is, they begin with wh-
question words, including how
: what, when, where, who
, and so forth) and yes-no questions
(that is to say, the answer to these questions is yes
). Yet, if we are choosing between at least two alternatives, we do not use yes
in our response:
"Are you married or single?"
is, of course, interrogative, but there are some exceptions:
—When the subject is what, which, who, how much
or how many
"Who has set the table?"
—With yes-no questions
, when the speaker just wants to confirm something
or when he or she wishes to express surprise:
You overheard their conversation?
That is your girl-friend? She's beautiful!
Note also the following changes:
—I→you; we→you, we; you→I, we; he, she, it
—me→you; us→you, us; you→me, us; him, her, it
do not change.
—my→your; our→your, our; your→my, our; his, her, its
—mine→yours; ours→yours, ours; yours→mine, ours; his, hers
do not change.
Make questions for the answers given.
Yes, he is exceptionally gifted.
Is he exceptionally gifted?
No, he didn't pull up the weeds in the garden.
Did he pull up the weeds in the garden?
Yes, she washed her stepdaughter's car.
No, they didn't want to marry and settle down.
Yes, he set up in business as a fishmonger a year ago.
No, he didn't give me a lift to the airport.
No, they didn't lay the table.
I bought some grapes.
(some grapes = what→object)
What did you buy?
A hurricane threatens their lives.
(a hurricane = what→subject)
What threatens their lives?
I studied Catalan
b My bike
was destroyed in the crash.
It's made of ivory
Butter is made from milk
This bread is made with flour, leaven, walnuts, olive oil,
salt and water
Mary stood up.
(Mary = who→subject)
Who stood up?
a An inspector
is coming next week to look over the factory.
glared at me.
c Mr Williams
is my legal adviser.
tossed the coin.
e The Greens
drew the map.
They stared at Miranda.
(Miranda = whom or who→object)
Whom/Who did they stare at?
He loves Amanda.
Whom/Who does he love?
is formal and more correct than who
is informal and more commonly heard than whom
. If there is a preposition, it can be put at the beginning or end of the interrogative sentence. If we place it at the beginning, whom
must be used: At whom
did they stare? This construction is the most formal, and rare in modern spoken English. We can find it with other wh-question words, too: For when
do you want the tickets?/When
do you want the tickets for
It was made by me
They murdered him.
He had a row with Belinda
I saw Arthur
I was being watched by the police
They won that old lamp in a raffle.
(in a raffle = where)
Where did they win that old lamp?
I come from Barcelona
They're from London
The dog buried the bone in my garden
I bought these batteries in the shop round the corner
I have been to the shops
They came home at three o'clock.
[at three o'clock = when or (at) what time]
When/(At) what time did they come home?
is usually omitted.)
It's seven o'clock.
What time is it?/What's the time?
The enemy attacked by night
They set off for school two hours ago
I think they will visit Michael next winter
She wants to go abroad in August
It's a quarter to nine
I (1) saw Mary (2) in Lisbon (3) on 5th May (4).
(1) Who saw Mary in Lisbon on 5th May?
(2) Whom/Who did you see in Lisbon on 5th May?
(3) Where did you see Mary on 5th May?
(4) When did you see Mary in Lisbon?
As you can see, at times we have a lot of possibilities. So as to avoid this, I have underlined the answer. Therefore, there will be only one alternative. In spite of this, you will have to ask as many questions as possible in this section.
Margaret broke the window.
Nicky spent three days in Mexico last year.
My father needs a pair of braces.
Our boss observed that Tom was trying to convince our
workmates to go on strike.
Mrs Turner was accused of bribery.
8 Revision exercise.
I live in a detached house
I sell fruit and vegetables
Yes, I spun a coin.
Yes, she glanced shyly at me.
No, the castle wasn't shrouded in mist.
No, it wasn't a misty morning.
Snowflakes covered the tops of the trees in my garden
We finished work at nightfall
They left at daybreak
We work from dawn until dusk
patted me on the back for getting the best marks in the whole class last night.
My dog has just bitten Tony
He always gawps at beautiful girls
He always gawks at beautiful girls
We will arrive in Morocco at sunset
Eric starts work at sunrise
The cat scratched Lesley two days ago
The concert begins at seven o'clock
Andrew is at the bank
No, you shouldn't lie to them.
They got to Paris in the afternoon
I adore Charlotte
No, I don't believe in God.
He reached the cottage yesterday
was taken away.
There isn't much cheese.
How much cheese is there?
(not much = how much→uncountable)
Notice the construction how + adjective or adverb
. We can create many structures like this by following this pattern. Some of them have been included in the next sections. All the same, you will have to use new ones in the revision exercises.
a A lot of
milk was spoilt.
There is no
c A great deal of
sugar is sold here.
We bought a lot of
There were heaps of bottles of sherry.
(heaps = how many→plural)
How many bottles of sherry were there?
We purchased three
We drank five
cans of beer.
people came to the party.
d A large number
of flats were pulled down.
There are two
Edinburgh is two miles from here.
How far is Edinburgh (from here)?
It's two miles to Edinburgh from here.
How far is it to Edinburgh (from here)?
I's two miles from here to Edinburgh.
How far is it from here to Edinburgh?
It takes two hours to get to Lleida.
How long does it take to get to Lleida?
My car is very long.
How long is your car?
The first three questions mean more or less the same.
Catalonia is a long way
I have been living here all my life
The next petrol station is not
Her hair is very
The helicopter flew very high.
How high did the helicopter fly?
My sister is two metres tall.
How tall is your sister?
The Pacific Ocean is very deep.
How deep is the Pacific Ocean?
These mountains are very
My daughter is not very
This river is not very
Our brother-in-law is the
tallest men I have ever seen
This well is ten metres
See unit 1
We are not going to deal with questions of this sort here.
Question tags have a similar meaning. See unit 3
In a more formal situation, we can use what + a noun
, or what without a noun
How old are you?/What is your age? (formal)/What age are you?
How much do you weigh?/What is your weight? (formal)/What weight are you?
How far is Edinburgh from here?/What is the distance from here to Edinburgh?
(formal)/What distance is Edinburgh from here?