Business English Grammar Ask Questions 1

The basic rule for asking questions in English is straightforward: Invert the order of the subject and the first auxiliary verb. 

  • It is snowing. = Is it snowing?
  • He can speak German. = Can he speak German?
  • They have lived here a long time. = Have they lived here a long time?
  • She will arrive at ten o’clock. = Will she arrive at ten o’clock?
  • He was driving fast. = Was he driving fast?
  • You have been smoking. = Have you been smoking?

If there is no auxiliary, use part of the verb ‘to do’.

  • You speak fluent French. = Do you speak fluent French?
  • She lives in Brussels. = Does she live in Brussels?
  • They lived in Manchester. = Did they live in Manchester?
  • He had an accident. = Did he have an accident?

Most questions with question words are made in the same way:

  • How often does she use it?
  • Why don’t you come?
  • Where do you work?
  • How many did you buy?
  • What time did you go?
  • Which one do you like?
  • Whose car were you driving?

Note whowhat and which can be the subject. Compare:

  • Who is coming to lunch? (who is the subject of the verb)
  • Who do you want to invite to lunch? (you is the subject of the verb)
  • What happened? (what is the subject of the verb)
  • What did you do? (you is the subject of the verb)

Note the position of the prepositions in these questions:

  • Who did you speak to?
  • What are you looking at?
  • Where does he come from?