Asking questions

You already know that, in the present simple, you either need to invert the subject and the verb “to be” or call on our favorite helping verb “do” to help make a question using any of the other many verbs that exist in English.

You are going to help me eat this chocolate cake! – Positive statement
Are you going to help me eat this chocolate cake? – Question

You want me to finish this hypercaloric chocolate cake all by myself. – Positive statement
Do you want me to finish this hypercaloric chocolate cake all by myself? – Question

The more difficult thing to learn is that when you use a question word – who, why, where, when, what, which, or how – the order of the other words should follow the QUASI formula.

QUASI  stands for QUestion word, Auxillary, Subject, Infinitive minus the “to,” which is the base form of the verb.

Example: Why (question word) do (auxillary) you (subject) hate (infinitive minus “to”) chocolate cake?

Of course, you can ask questions in any of the tenses. For example, if you ask some one if they have ever – in their lives – done something, you will always use the present perfect.

Example: Have you ever tried bungee jumping?

The question does not refer to a specific or finished period of time, so we use the present perfect instead of the past simple.

Each tense has its favorite auxillary verbs. We often use “will” to help us ask questions about the future.

Example: Will you go bungee jumping with me this weekend (if I promise to love you forever)?

When it comes to asking questions about possession in the present simple, the British prefer the auxillary and verb duo “have got,” whereas Americans prefer the classic duo “do have.” Potatoes, pah-tah-toes. You can choose either one, as long as you do not mix them up. For all types of other questions, all English speakers use the auxillary verb “do.”

Have you got the keys to your parents’ beach house?
Do you have the keys to your parents’ beach house?

Either one is fine, the important thing is that you invite me to the beach house.

There are also these little additional inquiries that we add to the end of a statement for emphasis called question tags. They usually reinforce what we think we already know to be true. Sometimes, if someone is particularly obnoxious, they are used rhetorically.

Question tags are positive when the statement is negative and negative when the statement is positive.

They often echo/use the main verb from affirmation or negation that they follow.

Example: You don’t (negative) love sweets very much, do (positive) you?
You are (positive) passionate about potato chips, aren’t (negative) you?