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Getting Smarter through Language

Asking and Answering Questions in English | Basic

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Lesson objectives: Learn about asking and answering questions in English.

Goals: Asking and answering questions in the present simple tense; distinguishing between affirmative, negative, and interrogative sentences using “be,” auxiliary “do/does,” and basic modal verbs.

Prerequisite: A basic understanding of the present simple tense and modal verbs such as “can” and “must.”

Related Lesson: See What are Question Words?

This level:


In this lesson

Practice 1. Asking yes-no questions.

Practice 2. Asking wh-questions with “be” .

Practice 3. Asking wh-questions with all verbs.

Sentence Forms

In English, there are three basic sentence forms: affirmative, negative, and interrogative. It is different when you ask questions with “be” or other verbs.

Sentence Forms with “Be”

To ask a question with the verb “be,” you put the verb in front of the subject. When you answer, you can repeat the verb or make it negative.

Sentence forms | Example 1


John is a student.


Is John a student?

Affirmative answers:


Yes, he is.


Negative answers:


No, he is not.

No, he isn’t.

Sentence forms | Example 2


My parents are from Peru.


Are your Parents from Peru?

Affirmative answers:


Yes, they are.

Negative answers:


No, they are not.

No, they aren’t.

Sentence Forms with Other Verbs

To ask a question with other verbs (except modal verbs), you must use an auxiliary verb. You also use the auxiliary in the negative. When you answer, you can repeat the auxiliary.

Affirmative sentences

John drives to work.

My parents come from Peru.

They come from Lima.

Ann speaks French very well.


Negative sentences

John does not drive to work.
John doesn’t drive to work.

My parents do not come from Peru.
My parents don’t come from Peru.

They do not come from Lima.
They don’t come from Lima.

Ann does not speak French very well.
Ann doesn’t speak French very well.

Interrogative sentences

Does John drive to work?

Do your parents come from Peru?

Do they come form Lima?

Does Ann speak French?

Sentence Forms with Modal Verbs

Modal verbs (such as “can,” “must,” “should," or “may”) do not change in different sentence forms. When asking a question, you put the modal verb in front of the subject.

Sentences with modal verbs

John can speak English well.
Can John speak English well?
John cannot speak English well.
John can’t speak English well.

We should leave now.
Should we leave now?
We should not leave now.
We shouldn’t leave now.

Up Next: Types of Questions

Continue the lesson to learn about types of questions.