More questions in English. Part 3 - Indirect questions, questions with the verb to be and questions with the preposition

The final part of the articles on questions in English will be devoted to a few more types that are quite common in the speech.

Questions with the verb to be

The verb to be in English is significantly different from others, including the formation of questions. However, everything is not as difficult as it may seem. The main thing to remember is when asking a question with the verb to be, we do not need an auxiliary verb. This applies to both types of questions, general and specific. All we need is to put the verb to be in the beginning of the sentence.

Consider the following examples:

They were friends in the childhood.

Were they friends in the childhood? (The general question)

Who were they in the childhood? (Special issue)

When were they friends? (Special issue)

This rule for the formation of questions with the verb to be applies to all grammatical tenses.


Indirect issues

Indirect questions in English sound very polite, as if " from far away". We use them to not sound rude and insistent. Such questions begin with the introductory phrases "Do you think ...", "Do you know ...", "Have you any idea". Then follows the direct order of words without auxiliary verbs. In other words, the indirect question has the form of a simple affirmative sentence with a certain introductory part.

Where does he work? - direct question

Do you know where he works? - an indirect question

Where is your sister?

Have you any idea where your sister is?


Questions with a preposition

In English quite often, there are questions with a preposition. And as often they create difficulties for us. How to behave with these strange prepositions? Why is this word at all here? Where should I put it? The answer is one - put it at the end of the sentence.

What are you looking at?

Who does he work for?

For Russian-speaking people this sounds unusual, because we put these same prepositions in the beginning:

На что ты смотришь?

На кого он работает?

We can still put the preposition at the beginning of the question, but in that case it will sound very formal or even old-fashioned.

For how long did you wait?

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