What is question? Question is a word that used to asking about time, place, person, thing, or information. In a linguistic expression, question is used to make a request for information, or the request made using such an expression. There are so many kinds of questions in English:

  1. WH- questions

                This question is to request the information. The information that ask could be time, place, person, thing, or reason. Such as yes-no and tag question, Wh-question is also ended by question mark (?).Wh- question (where, when, whose, who, whom, why, which, how) are the pronoun. Where, when, why, and how are to replace an adverb; what and who to replace the subject or object; whose is to replace possessive; and whom, what, who, and which to replace the object.

The functions of question sentence word:

Question Words Functions Examples
What Is used to ask about thing or matter What is that?
Where Is used to ask about place Where is your mother?
Who Is used to ask about person Who are they?
When Is used to ask about time When does the bus from Bandung arrive?
Whom Is used in formal English Whom are you going to meet?
Whose Is used to ask possession Whose book is this?
Which Is used to ask someone to make a choice. Which can also used with either singular or plural nouns Which coffee are you going to buy?

Which ones are you going to buy?

Which are you going to buy?

Why Is used to ask about the reason Why are you talking like that?
How Is used to ask about a manner. How can be combine with other word, such often, far, many, long, etc. How did your mother meet your father?

How often you smoking?

How far is your home from here?

                Types of Wh- questions : wh- questions can be categorized according to the purpose they serve for an asker. There are three types:

  • Information questions, this is a basic type. They are used to request information that has not been previously mentioned and they take the different forms considered thus far.

e.g. :

  1. Maria went to the party with someone (declarative)
  2. Who did Maria go to the party with?
  3. With whom did Maria go to the party?

The object of someone has been converted to the wh- question word who, which has been moved to the front of sentence. Meanwhile, the preposition of with moved to front in (c) sentence and the word who changed becomes whom. Information wh- questions also have up-fall intonation and down-rise intonation.

e.g. :

  1. How can you do it?
  2. What do you want?
  3. Where are you going?
  • Repeat Please Questions

This questions are often uttered when the asker either did not heat or understand the information that she/he was given. Repeat please questions have two word orders. First one is, the word order with wh- word fronted.

e.g. :

Jane        : When did Mayka come home?

Mom      : At eleven o’clock

Or normal dclarative statement word order, see the sentences below:

When she did get in?

She got in when?

Both of the sentences have a rising intonation.

  • Elaborate Please Questions

This questions are asked to get someone to elaborate on an answer that has been given. For the example:

A: Hey! That girl just picked my bag!

B: which girl?

  1. Yes/No Questions

Yes/no questions are the question that can be answered with a simple yes or no.

e.g. :

  1. Do you know Smith?
  2. Yes, I do (I know Smith)
  3. Can you sing?
  4. Yes, I can.
  5. Did you hear that?
  6. No, I don’t

If a declarative sentence contains an auxiliary verb like have/be, a modal auxiliary such as may/could, or the copular form of be, yes/no questions is created from the sentence by applying the rule of subject-auxiliary inversion.

e.g. :

  1. a. He is a chef (copular be)
  2. Is he a chef? Yes, he is.
  3. a. She could swim (modal could+verb)
  4. Could she swim? No, she could not.

Be (is) in the first sentence as a declarative sentence. When moved into the front of sentence, be becomes the question sentence that can be a simple answered of yes or no.

Yes/No questions and information question, yes/no question is a question that may be answered by ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Meanwhile, an information question is a question that asks for information by using a question word: where, when, why, who, whom, what, which, whose, how. For example: a. Where does you live? b. In Jakarta. The same subject-verb word order is used in both yes/no and information questions. Helping verb + Subject + Main verb. the word that the underlines are helping verb and main verb. meanwhile, the word of where is a question word and you is as a subject. The second example; a. Who came to dinner? b. Melissa. When the question word like who—is the subject of the question, the usual question word order is not used. No form of do is used.


  • Positive and Negative Yes/No Questions

Yes/no questions are either positive or negative. Negative yes/no questions are formed by contracting the verbal element at the beginning of the question (auxiliary verb, modal, verb, or copular be. Positive yes/no questions usually do not imply any expectation about what the answer will be. The person who asks, for instance, does not necessarily have any idea whether the answer will be yes or no. Negative questions, on the other hand, are generally asked to confirm a specific expectation or assumption on the part of the asker.


Positive questions:

  1. Are you coming?
  2. have you been here before?
  3. did you know them?

 Negative questions:

  1. Aren’t you coming?
  2. Haven’t you been here?
  3. Didn’t you know them?
  • Reduced Yes/No Questions

Reduced yes/no questions are shortened question forms sometimes used in informal conversation. There are two types: 1.) Elliptical yes/no question, omit auxiliary verbs and copular be.  e.g. are you coming? Becomes, you coming?

2.) declarative question, have the form of statement. They are used to; check information, repeat something someone has said in order to question or confim it, and express surprise or amazement. e.g. do you play guitar? Becomes, you play guitar?

  1. Tag questions

Tag question is a question that is added onto the end of a sentence. An auxiliary verb is used in a tag question. When the main verb is affirmative, the tag question is negative. When the main verb is negative, the question is affirmative. See the sentences below:


  1. You know her, don’t you?
  2. Claudia is your girlfriend, isn’t she?
  3. you can swim, can’t you?


  1. You don’t know her, do you?
  2. Claudia isn’t your boyfriend, is you?
  3. You can’t swim, can you

There are two types of tag question:

  1. Opposute Polarity Tag Question, the verb in the tag and the verb in the stem have opposite values. e.g. : Claudia is your girlfriend, isn’t she?
  2. Same Polarity Tag Question, both the stem and and the tage are positive. A low pitch that jumps up on the tag and the falls indicates the speaker has reached a conclusion, which is stated in the stem. e.g. : so, that’s the reason you love her, is it?

Same polarity tag question can also function as: an urgent imperative, a polite request, a suggestion, a reminder/aadmonition, and a request for feedback.

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Fundamentals of English Grammar, second edition, by Betty Schrampfer Azar