It's mid morning on a Sunday. Oliver has just got up and is in the kitchen when Daisy comes home. Sophie is in Tanzania for work. 

We use the question words who (for people), what/which (for things), when (for time), where (for places), why (for reasons) and how (for more details).

What do I need to know about question words?

I know you know the basics, but questions are quite tricky. Let’s just go over the main rules.

We usually form questions by putting an auxiliary verb, or a modal verb, before the subject.

Does it suit me?
Has Mum called?
Can you get the tea?
Shall I pass you to Oliver?

When the verb 'to be' is the main verb, we don’t use auxiliary verbs.

Is Oliver there?
Was it good?

We can add question words to get more or different information.

Where did you go swimming? > In the swimming pool in town.
Why did you go there? > Because it’s a nice, big pool.
Who did you go swimming with? > With Amy.
What time did you meet Amy? > At 10 o’clock.
Which pool did you go in? > The serious one, without the slides!
How did you get there? > On the bus.

I see that questions sometimes finish with prepositions.

Yes, that’s very common.

Who were you out with?
What have you got that bag for?
What’s all that about?
Where are you calling from?

OK, that all seems straightforward.

Yes, but do you know about  subject  and object questions? 

Sorry?

If who, what or which is the subject of the question, it comes before the verb and we don’t use do as an auxiliary.

Who went out for curry? (subject – who)
What happened? (subject – what)
Which looks better, this or that one? (subject – which)

Object questions follow the structure we looked at before.

Who did you go out for curry with? (subject – you; object – who)
Which restaurant does Oliver like most? (subject – Oliver; object – which)
What did they do after the restaurant? (subject – they; object – what)

I think I understand …

Here’s a little test for you, then. A cat killed a mouse and a dog killed the cat.

1 What killed the mouse?
2 What did the cat kill?
3 What killed the cat?
4 What did the dog kill?

OK, 1 the cat, 2 the mouse, 3 the dog, 4 the cat. Right?

Exactly! You’ve got it.

Any more tricky things about question words?

Well in reported speech or indirect questions, question words come in the middle of sentences. In these types of sentence, the word order does not change. We don’t put the verb to be before the subject or use an auxiliary to form a question, as in a normal question:

I asked her what she was doing at the weekend. 
Do you know where the post office is?
Can you tell me how much it costs?

What are you doing at the weekend?
Where is the post office?
How much does it cost?

Hmm, why do you use indirect questions if they are more complicated?

Well, they are more polite, especially if you are talking to a stranger.

OK, I’ll remember to say: 'Do you know where the post office is?'

Good. Can you make that even more polite?

How about: 'Excuse me, could you tell me where the post office is, please?'

Fine! That’ll do. Do you really need a post office?!

 

Total votes: 393

Discussion

What questions do you like to ask people when you first meet them?

Comments

SARAH K's picture
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SARAH K 17 June, 2013 - 08:34

Hi, ellen
I don't know anything about Bridgit Mendler. Where is she from? I am going to listen her songs now in YouTube. Taylor Swift is one of my fave singer. I love her song "I KNEW YOU WERE IN TROUBLE".
Yes I have my exams of the 9th grade. After tomorrow I have my second exam, math exam. These times I haven't had many free time, but usually during my free time time I read a book, watch a film or hang out with my friends or family.
My hobbies are reading and fashion. I am not a very fashion person, (the latest trends are not for me), but I love to see the catwalks in Milano or Paris. Albania has some really good stylists.
My fave english songs are "Stay" from Miley Cyrus, I KNEW YOU WERE IN TROUBLE" from Taylor Swift, "My kind of love" From Emily Sande, "Rehab" from Amy Whinehouse and many others. I can't pick up a favourite english film, but I love "Avatar" and "Argo" from Ben Affleck
Best wishes, your albanian site friend.

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ellen's picture
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ellen 19 June, 2013 - 18:02

hello SARAH K
how are you?
I read 9 th grade.
Yes I hade my exams pass the exams.
i like very english songs.
For example, Taylor Swift ~"I KNEW YOU WERE IN TROUBLE".~,
Farid Mammadov ~Hold me~,
Selena Gomez ~Come and Get~,
Demi Lovato ~Heart Attach~
Bridgit mendler~Hurricane ~ and ~Ready or Not~ and s.on.
Bridgit Mendler is American singer.
yes, i like film are ~Taxi 1,2,3,4,~, ~Avatar~, ~Titanic~, and ~"Argo" ~.
Are you watching Eurovision song concest/
Have you been some country?
How many hours a week you can pass the English language? Have you got sister and brother? Which you singers like?
You are dark hair or blonde hair ? You are tall, or undersized? Have you got some animal?
Your Azerbaijanian Friend ~Ellen~

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SARAH K's picture
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SARAH K 21 June, 2013 - 14:35

Hello ellen,
I am fine, thanks. And you?
Now I am free, I passed all my exams with the highest grades. I am very happy.
Yes, I watched Eurovision Contest, but I didn't like any special song. I liked albanian song, even though it did not arrive in the final night, I also liked Danmark's songs.
I don't spend too much time learning english because english had been my fave subject always and I don't need too much time to learn it.
I have got a brother and a sister. I have dark , long hair, and I am tall. I am the tallest girl in my class. I do not have any pet, I hate them because I am afraid of them.
~SARAH~

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ellen's picture
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ellen 25 June, 2013 - 17:41

hello ~SARAH~
i am fine today .
because, i prepare trip Europe other cities.
i am sue again write you
thanks.

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SARAH K's picture
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SARAH K 12 July, 2013 - 14:00

Hello ellen,
I am happy for you, I am looking forward to hear from you. Please write me soon, and tell me where have you been and other interesting things from your holidays.
HAVE A NICE TIME!!!!!!!!

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ellen's picture
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ellen 13 June, 2013 - 17:56

hello SARAH K
i just answering your questions.
my name is Ellen
I am from Azerbaijan.
i dont understand three questions.
i would like to be in the future is Journalist
And you?
What's your name?
Where are you from?
What would you like to be in the future?
how old are you?
please.......................

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SARAH K's picture
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SARAH K 13 June, 2013 - 14:54

Many questions like:
What's your name?
Where are you from?
Which is your fave school subject?
What would you like to be in the future?

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ellen's picture
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ellen 10 June, 2013 - 17:31

Hello my friend again.
Yes, Azerbaijan grade 11.(the highest score),
yes, Baku near my country.
I live in country.
you know country has got very nice nature and fresh feel.
And you?
where you live?
yes, i like swimming.
It is very nice.
Do you like talkind on the telephone?
Do you like go yo The Wedding?
Truly your friend Ellen.

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MALINE's picture
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MALINE 9 June, 2013 - 17:49

hi ellen i´m really happy last friday I did an exam and I got a 10 (the highest score),how do you grade in Azerbajian? with letters like in America or with numbers?
No,i haven´t been to Baku,is it near where you live?. This is a great season for going to the beach it´s always sunny .Do you know swimming?
yes,i like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez
I like pigtails but now my hair isn´t large enough for one,I´m letting it grows.
I look forward for your answers,bye bye

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ellen's picture
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ellen 8 June, 2013 - 16:18

Helo my friend Maline
How are you?
No,I haven"t been to Mexico.
But, I want to been Mexico.
And you?
Have you been to Baku?
Yes, , I want to go to the beach for my holidays I haven´t been on a beach for a long time,
mAYBE, i will go to the Caspian sea and I belive it is wonderful time to spend time the Caspian sea.
yes, Every year my school to celebrate Prom time.
Do you like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez?
Whicl you are like her Music?
Do you like pigtail?
Truly your friend Ellen

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MALINE's picture
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MALINE 8 June, 2013 - 02:58

Hi ellen, I want to go to the beach for my holidays I haven´t been on a beach for a looooooooooong time, i´d like to visit Huatulco or Cancun.I want to swim and swim in the ocean and feel the breeze of the wind on my face and look at the stars and walk on the beach.
Have you ever visited México?
We only have proms when you finishes all your school only the seniors have proms what about you do you have proms?

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ellen's picture
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ellen 3 June, 2013 - 17:45

Hello maline.
OO it is very bad.
I sue you it is very nice now!!!!!!!!!!!.
I like collect interesting information into their leisure time on the internet.
How do you want to spend your summer holidays?
Are your school spend Prom time?
Have you been some countries?
What will you do in summer holiday?
Do you like to travel?
your Azerbaijanian friend Ellen

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MALINE's picture
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MALINE 1 June, 2013 - 03:15

Hi ellen,yes I like her new single,I like her music and videos.
If you don´t like watching movies then what do you like to do?
I can work alone or in teams
Yes,I like to organize things but i´m not very patient
and I guess I´m not very energetic I don´t practice any sport except walking my dog but I don´t thnik that´s exercise.I´m afraid of balls one hit me right on the face when I was eight and it broke my nose and let my face pretty bad :-(
see you,maline.

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ellen's picture
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ellen 29 May, 2013 - 18:21

Hello Maline
How are you?
I think everythink is ok.
It is true?
Yes, I want to be Jurnalist. Because, I like talking different people.
Yes,I like Avril Lavinge.
You can see her photo.
I like her music very much.
Especially, <here's to never growing up> her new single.
Ir is very nice single.
Do you like Her new single?
I dont like movies.
I dont like watching movies.
Do you like talking to people?
Do you prefer to work alone?
Are you energetic?
Do you like orqanizing things?
Are you patient?
your Azerbaijanian friend Ellen

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MALINE's picture
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MALINE 26 May, 2013 - 17:21

Hi ellen when I get older I want to be an English Teacher and do you still want to be a journalist?
I think Teaching is very important and kind.
I couldn´t become a doctor I can´t stand blood,
I´m reading a book that I found in an old box it´s called The nurse´s history by Carol Gino.
I like listening to music in my free time Katy Perry,Adele,Keisha and I like watching movies too,my favouriteas are comedy and my favourites actors are adam sandler and Ben stiller what movies do you like?
Do you like avrill lavigne?
see you soon bye.

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ellen's picture
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ellen 24 May, 2013 - 17:26

Hello Maline
What profession do you want to have in the future?
Where are you trying to read? Maybe can you give me advice what in your opinion is good jobs? I would like to hear your opinion....
Did in your school make the same? And can you tell me about your hobbies? What do you like to make when you have free time?
I would like to hear your opinion....

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11 users have voted.
MALINE's picture
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MALINE 19 May, 2013 - 17:19

Hello ellen,
I live in the city in fact I live near downtown,I like reading and I want to start reading books in english to omprove my english,as far as jobs teacher,vet,tourist guide,chef.

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ellen's picture
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ellen 18 May, 2013 - 17:39

Hello Tamara.
I am fine
And you?
How old are you?
Have you been to Azerbaijan?
Have you got sister and brother?
Which you singers like?
You are dark hair or blonde hair ?
You are tall, or undersized?
I would like to hear your opinion....

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9 users have voted.
Tamara's picture
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Tamara 18 May, 2013 - 13:14

The question depend from the person i meet, but normally, i ask him or her how are you?

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ellen's picture
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ellen 17 May, 2013 - 17:47

Hello Maline.
I dont see Penguins.
But, I know it is very birds.
Are you live Country or city?

Where are you trying to read?
Maybe can you give me advice what in your opinion is good jobs?
How many hours a week you can pass the English language?
Have you got sister and brother?
Which you singers like?
You are dark hair or blonde hair ?
You are tall, or undersized?
I would like to hear your opinion....

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11 users have voted.
ellen's picture
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ellen 17 May, 2013 - 17:45

hello Angelica.
you know Azerbaijan and Turkey brothery country.
How old are you?
And what about you?
What is the educational system Turkey?
Please write to thank you in advance ..................
your Azerbaijanian friend Ellen

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Angelica's picture
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Angelica 29 May, 2013 - 12:02

Hello ellen
I am 13 years old
I don t understand other question
I am sorry!!!
Your Turkish friend Angelica

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Angelica 16 May, 2013 - 19:22

My name is Angelica
my favorite colors are blue and white
my favorite brand is LcWaikiki
I listen pop music

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ellen's picture
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ellen 16 May, 2013 - 12:50

hello Angelica
my name is Ellen
my favorite colour black ,white and red.
i like pop music.
And you?
how old are you?
*what is your name?
*what is your favorite color?
*what is your favorite brand?
*what kind of listen to music?
please

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Angelica's picture
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Angelica 15 May, 2013 - 19:18

I like meet new friends. I ask a lot different questions! I sometimes use "WHAT"
for example:
*what is your name?
*what is your favorite color?
*what is your favorite brand?
*what kind of listen to music?
And I ask a lot questions...

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MALINE's picture
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MALINE 12 May, 2013 - 22:12

I love animals ellen ,my favourites are penguins in fact I like the cartoon Penguins of Madagascar the movie Have you seen it?
I really like being able to speak in english I can comunicate with a lot of different people and learn more about other cultures and places.
My favourites subjects are english and Phylosophy,I like to think that everyone has a porpose here in this world.

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ellen's picture
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ellen 12 May, 2013 - 15:41

Hello MALINE.
How are you?
Yes,I have got cat and dog.
My cat name is HUST.
My dog name is JIMI.
Its is very nice and pet.
I love animals. And you?
Do you like Animals?
My favorite subjects are English and Geography.
I think English language it is very nice language
It is not true?
What´s your favourite subject?
What profession do you want to have in the future?
Where are you trying to read?
Maybe can you give me advice what in your opinion is good jobs?
How many hours a week you can pass the English language?
Have you got sister and brother?
Which you singers like?
You are dark hair or blonde hair ?
You are tall, or undersized?
I would like to hear your opinion....

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18 users have voted.

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