Asking Questions in English – A Guide


Ask and answering questions correctly in English can take a little work. You need to learn, and understand the way questions and answers are structures. And then you need to practice, focusing on your speaking skills. At higher levels, you’ll also want to know about cultural differences, so that you can ask questions in ways that are considered appropriate and polite.

What do you want to learn about questions today? Select the topic that you want to focus on:

Closed questions
Open questions with basic question words
Past Simple with open and closed questions
Flip a card question prompts – Present and Past Simple
Learn more question words
Tag questions
Indirect questions
Reported questions
Questions ending in prepositions
Let’s put it all together

Asking Questions in English – A Guide

Let’s start at the beginning.

What is a question? Research and write a definition of the term. Think of four good questions to ask your teacher.

Closed Questions

Closed questions are questions that you answer with ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Are you at home now?
Is it 5:00 PM?
Are they your pets?
Do you like broccoli?
Does your family go on vacation in July?

Let’s talk about how to ask and answer closed questions in English.

Closed questions are questions that are answered by ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

Do you like mushrooms?

This is a closed questions, because you can answer, ‘yes, I do’, or, ‘No, I don’t.’

Why do you like mushrooms? This is not a closed question. It’s an open question. It asks for more than a simple yes/no answer.

At first, it can be confusing to know if we need to invert the word order of ‘be’, or if we need to add ‘do’ or ‘does’ to form a question.

Look at the chart below.

closed questions to be to do

Most English verbs need help to form questions. They need the auxiliary verb ‘do’ before the subject. There are special verbs, like ‘to be’, ‘can’, and ‘will’, that follow different rules. But if you are using a normal verb, in a basic Simple Present question, you need ‘do’.

The 3rd person changes, as usual. But notice where the ‘s/es’ goes. Which subjects change?

Write an interview between a reporter and a famous chef.

Practice Exercises:
Sentence Builder Game – Practice closed questions with ‘to be’
How to answer closed questions with ‘to be’ and normal verbs – Explanation
What is in the backpack? – Practice using ‘what’ and ‘have’ in questions and answers
Be or do? – Practice answering closed questions quiz

Open Questions – Basic question words

Open questions are questions that invite us to give a more complete answer than ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

We make open questions the same way we make closed questions, and then put a question word at the start.

W5 Question Words:
Who is your favourite famous person?
What are some of your favourite animals?
Where do you live?
When do you usually get up in the morning?
Why do you study English?

Let’s practice!
Create your own questions with the the W5 question words.

Meet Mary Ann – New Beginner reading with W5 comprehension questions

Cluttered table – Activity to practice what, where, and how many.

Who – Person (as the subject of the sentence)
Whose – Possession
Whom – Person (as the object of the sentence)
What – A thing or object
Where – Location
When – Time
Why – Reason
How – Manner
Which – Choice
How many – Number of countable things/objects
How much – Quantity of a non-countable thing/object
How long – Length or quantify of time
How often – Frequency of occurrence
How far – Distance
How old – age

Who is the woman in the green sweater?
Whose book is this?
To whom should I write for an answer?
What is your favourite colour?
Where is the bus terminal?
When do you usually eat lunch?
Why are you late?
How are you? How does this work?
Which one do you prefer?
How many glasses do we need?

How much water do you drink a day?

How long is the flight to Cali?
How often do you go to the park?
How far is your house from here?
How old is your daughter?

Sentence Builder Game – Practice open questions with ‘be’
W5 + H Question Words – Practice basic question words
Leap Frog Board Game – Practice Present Simple questions with ‘be’ or ‘do’
Much or many in basic questions – A quiz about a coffee shop
Question Words with ‘how’ – A quiz
Memory Game – Match up the question words

Past Simple
General Past Simple questions – Practice asking question about the past

Learn how and why we use tag questions in English.
Tag questions

Be able to ask questions indirectly.
Indirect questions

Know how to report questions others have asked.
Reported Questions

Ending a question with a preposition. Know when it is appropriate and when (and how) to avoid it.
Questions ending in prepositions – Put the questions in order, and take turns asking and answering them.

Let’s put it all together!

ADVANCED QUESTIONS – Let’s put it all together.

Mixed question types – Speaking game


Can you answer the following questions correctly?
Asking questions is an important skill, right?
Are you just now learning English?
Was the warm up game fun today?
Were the students on time?
Do you know how to ask questions about the Past?
Do you have any questions so far?
Does this topic confuse you?
Did you know that HAVE is both a verb and an auxiliary verb?
Have you ever had English classes before?
Has this class taught you anything special?
Had you considered the topic of QUESTIONS important before you started this class?