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?!

 

Discussion

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

Comments

cherry00's picture
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cherry00 30 July, 2022 - 11:31

When I meet someone for the first time I ask:
What's your name?
Ho old are you?
Where are you from?
Where do you live?
What are your Hobbies?

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Capixt's picture
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Capixt 25 June, 2022 - 02:28

I always ask
-> What is your name?
-> Who old are you?
-> What do you like to do?
-> Which type of music do you like?

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Ema_tavo's picture
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Ema_tavo 31 August, 2021 - 14:19

I don't usually ask many questions, I just stay with them. If I were to choose some questions though, I would ask "What's your name?" and "How old are you?". I'd ask the other important questions later on.

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Netinho22's picture
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Netinho22 18 August, 2021 - 19:26

I like to ask
what is your name?
How old are you?
what is your favorite sport?
where are you from?
which team do you support?

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Kel's picture
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Kel 4 August, 2021 - 01:09

When i meet new people, i usually ask.
What your name?
How old are you ?
Do you live here ?
How life going ?

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Thiagob's picture
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Thiagob 4 August, 2021 - 00:47

When i meet new people for the first time, i like to ask things like:

What's your name?
How old are you?
What kind of movie do you like?
What are your hobbies?

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guilhermeglauber's picture
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guilhermeglauber 3 August, 2021 - 21:10

Hello how are you.
What is your name?
Where you are from ?
How old are you?
Do you like computer games?
What kind of music do you like?
Do you have any hobbies?

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trakres's picture
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trakres 3 August, 2021 - 20:55

just when I meet a person likes to ask
what is your name ?
where was born ?
where do you study ?
what do you like to do ?
do you practice any sport?

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Gabeplimplom's picture
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Gabeplimplom 3 August, 2021 - 17:48

When I meet someone I like to ask: how old are you?; what is your name?; what do you like to do?; where are you from?;

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Kaua_henri_41's picture
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Kaua_henri_41 3 August, 2021 - 16:44

I like to ask:
What do you like to do?
What's your name?
What's your hobbie?
What sport do you do?

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JoseAugustoCH's picture
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JoseAugustoCH 3 August, 2021 - 16:18

Hi what's your name ?
how old are you ?
do you like to do some sport?
what do you do in your free time?

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PedorHugo's picture
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PedorHugo 3 August, 2021 - 14:51

When I meet a new person, I ask him what he likes, what he likes to do, if some things are common with me, I will talk about that subject with him.

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Hilly1357's picture
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Hilly1357 3 August, 2021 - 06:48

When I meet someone I like to ask:
what's your name?
How old are you?
where you are from?
what do you like to eat?
What would you like to do?
I like to ask less invasive questions.

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Ju_matos's picture
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Ju_matos 3 August, 2021 - 05:23

Hi what's your name?
How old are you?
What do you like to do most?
Do you like or practice any sport?

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Drizinha123's picture
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Drizinha123 3 August, 2021 - 03:59

I like to ask
what is your name?
How old are you?
what is your favorite sport?
where are you from?
which team do you support?

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0 users have voted.
Drizinha123's picture
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Drizinha123 3 August, 2021 - 03:58

I like to ask
what is your name?
How old are you?
what is your favorite sport?
where are you from?
which team do you support?
What is your favorite food?

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Estudante's picture
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Estudante 2 August, 2021 - 21:26

When it’s the first time I see the person I ask:
What is your name?
Where are you from?
How old are you?
Where did you live before?

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r4v4's picture
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r4v4 1 August, 2021 - 07:24

i like to start by asking what hobbies the person has, musical style, if they have any religion, favorite networks, series they like, age, and then I think the conversation will flow.

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lanafrancis's picture
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lanafrancis 1 August, 2021 - 02:06

First the most common questions like the
What is your name?
How old are you ?
What do you like to do?
where are you from?
simple and not too invasive questions

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PHF's picture
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PHF 31 July, 2021 - 19:19

I like to ask:

How old are you?
What's your name?
What's your hobbie?
Do you like watch something?

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PHF's picture
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PHF 31 July, 2021 - 19:19

I like to ask:

How old are you?
What's your name?
What's your hobbie?
Do you like watch something?

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0 users have voted.

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