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Getting Smarter through Language

Types of Questions | Asking and Answering Questions in English

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This is part of the Asking and Answering Questions lesson.

Types of Questions

It may not be very important to know the names of the types of questions on this page, but you should know what they are and how they are different.

Yes-No Questions or Closed-Ended Questions

A yes-no (or closed-ended) question generally limits your answer to “yes” or “no.”

Yes-no questions with “be”

Are you from California?
Yes, I am.

Are you American?

Is Marco a teacher?
He is. (He isn’t.)

Are John and Lisa students?
No, they aren’t. (No, they’re not.)

Yes-no questions with other verbs

Do you speak French?
No, I don’t. (No, I do not.)

Does your brother live in Japan?
No, he doesn’t. He lives in South Korea.

Does Jasmina speak Spanish?
Yes, she does.

Can you play the piano? —Yes, I can.

Other ways to answer

Are you tired?
A little.
(Yes, I’m a little tired.)

Do you speak French?
Not really.
(No, I’m not really tired.)

Are your parents home today?
I think so.
(I think that they are home.)

May I come in?
Of course!
(Of course you may come in?)

Answering with a question

Are you a doctor?
Why do you ask?

Are you talking to me?
What do you think?

Note. Be careful. Depending on the situation, answering with a question can be rude or uncomfortable.

Wh-Questions or Open-Ended Questions

Wh-questions are questions that start with a question word: who, what, when, where, why, which, how, and so on. They are called “open-ended” questions because the answer is “open,” that is, the answer can be anything.

Wh-Questions or Open-Ended Questions

Who is that man?
That’s my teacher, Mr. Ecks.

Where is Guatemala?
It’s in Central America.

Why is it so hot in here?
The air-conditioner is out of order.

When does the movie start?
At 7.

Where do you live?
In Texas.

Confirmation or Tag Questions

Confirmation or tag questions are short questions you add to the end of a sentence to get someone to confirm or agree with the information.

Confirmation or tag questions

You’re from Chicago, aren’t you?
Yes, I am.

It’s hot today, isn’t it?
No, it isn’t.

You speak French, don’t you?
Yes, a little.

You don’t have a brother, do you?
I don’t.

You can’t drive a truck, can you?
Yes, I can.

Rhetorical Questions

Sometimes you ask these questions as rhetorical questions. That means you do not really want an answer. They work like a comment about something. The situation or context tells you if someone is asking a question rhetorically, but sometimes you cannot really tell.

Rhetorical questions (no answer is expected)

Wow! Angelina Jolie is beautiful, isn’t she?

Thank you! You’re a good friend, aren’t you?

Wow! Isn’t it beautiful today?

Indirect or Embedded Questions

Embedded questions work like questions, but they are not really questions. They are part of another sentence.

In the examples below, notice that the embedded questions use “if” or question words (wh-words), but they are not in interrogative form.

Indirect or Embedded Questions

Question: Is Kamal from Afghanistan?

Embedded question: I don’t know if Kamal is from Afghanistan.

Question: Where is the supermarket?

Embedded question: I’m not sure where the supermarket is.

Question: Where is Johnny Depp from?

Embedded question: Do you know where Johnny Depp is from?

Question: How old is Morgan Freeman?

Embedded question: I wonder how old Morgan Freeman is.

Question: How do you make falafel?

Embedded question: I have no idea how you make falafel.

 Video Activity

Watch this video lesson about embedded questions and take good study notes.

Video Practice: After learning the above content, practice using embedded questions.

Up Next: Questions Using Question Words

Continue the lesson to learn to learn about question words.