Yes/No Questions

There are many types of questions in English. The easiest are questions that can be answered “yes” or “no.”

A: Are you from around here?
B: Yes, I am. A: Do you come here often?
B: Yes, I do. A: Can I buy you a drink?
B: No, thanks. A: Are you married?
B: Yes, I am.

To form a question from a statement, first count the number of verbs.

John is a doctor. One verb: is (be)
Jane drives a sports car. One verb: drives
Joan played basketball last night. One verb: played
Jan is eating her dinner. Two verbs: is eating
June has rented an apartment. Two verbs: has rented
Jen has been living there since 1969. Three verbs: has been living

If there is one verb in the statement and the verb is a form of be, simply switch the positions of the subject and verb.

Statement Question
John is a doctor. Is John a doctor?
The Jensens are here. Are the Jensens here?

If there are two verbs, simply switch the positions of the subject and first verb.

Statement Question
Jan is eating dinner. Is Jan eating dinner?
June has rented an apartment. Has June rented an apartment?
Jen has been living here since 1969. Has Jen been living here since 1969?

If there is one verb, and the verb is not a form of be, the process is more complex.

1. Add Do to the beginning of the sentence.

The Johnsons live in that house. Do the Johnsons live in that house?

2. If the main verb “carries” a third person singular s, move the s to Do, making it Does.

Jane drives a car. Do Jane drives a car? (Not finished yet!)
Does Jane drive a car? (Good question!)

3. If the main verb “carries” past tense, move the past tense to Do, making it Did.

Joan played basketball last night. Do Joan played basketball? (Not finished yet!)
Did Joan play basketball? (Good question!)

In conversation, most questions are asked of the second person (you) and answered in the first (I).

A: Are you from California?
B: No, I’m from Oregon. Are you?
A: Yes, I’m from Hollywood.
B: Do you know any movie stars?
A: No, I don’t go out at night.

In British English, the main verb have sometimes functions like be in questions. This is not common in American English.

Statement Question
You have a pet ferret. Have you a pet ferret? (British)
Do you have a pet ferret? (American)

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