Yes/No Questions

The Yes/No Question structure serves as the foundation for other interrogative forms, including Object Questions, Either-Or Questions (aka Alternative Questions), and Negative Questions. It's the first question structure that students learn, and since it's a little different from the declarative structure, it's helpful to teach this well so that students feel confident with using questions as they move forward.

What to Expect

Yes/No Questions use, for the most part, the same words as declarative sentences do. The method featured here is the reordering of words from a statement to turn the sentence into a question. These questions are often accompanied by short, typically 3-word, answers, the 1st word of which is either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

The key to both Yes/No Questions and Short Answers is the helping verbs, so make sure students can identify them and know the different forms of each.

Yes/No Questions serve as the basis for most other interrogative structures, so it’s good for even advanced learners to cover this topic.

Prerequisites

Learners should already be familiar with the following:

Positive vs Negative: the words ‘yes’, ‘no’, and ‘not’.

Helping Verbs, aka Auxiliary Verbs, are the small verbs that come in front of more important verbs. They are also the words that can be contracted with ‘not’.

    • am / is / are / was / were
    • have / has / had
    • do / does / did
    • can / could

Declarative Sentences, or statements. Most sentences are declarative, and they can be manipulated to create interrogative (question) structures.

Pronouns, especially Subject Personal Pronouns: I, you, she, he, it, we, and they. It’s also worth knowing demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, and those), although those are less common for short answers.

Contractions: helping verbs can be contracted at the end of pronouns (like they’vewe’re, I’m, it’s, etc.), but more commonly, not is contracted at the end of helping verbs (like aren’t, can’t, hadn’t, won’t, etc.)

Proficiency Level

Students at the A1 level are expected to know Yes/No Questions. They’ll start learning them at a Beginner level (or 1st out of 6).*

*actual starting level varies from one course-book series to the next

Start the Question with a Helping Verb.

If the corresponding declarative sentence has one or more helping
verbs already, move the 1st one to the front of the sentence.

If there is no helping verb, add a form of do.

Be can act as both a main verb and a helping verb at the same time.

End the Answer with that Same Helping Verb.

Bonus Notes


Log in to Insider Access to view this content.
(Signup is free!)

Printouts & Slideshows

Log in to Insider Access to view or download.

Keep on Learning; Keep on Teaching

More Polar Questions

Yes/No Questions prompt one of two answers. They are a type of Polar Questions. Other types include Negative Questions, Choice Questions, and Tag Questions.
Visit Topic Page

Object Questions

Object Questions is one of the interrogative structures built upon the foundation of Yes/No Questions.
Visit Topic Page