Question-Word Questions And Answers

Did you know that there is an easy way of asking and answering question-word questions?

by Louis Alexander


All question-word questions in English begin with the letters WH, except the question-word How? That's why we often refer to these as "Wh-questions". Because it takes a long time to learn how to ask these questions correctly, a special technique is used to train you in Direct English. You need this in order to suppress the way you ask questions in your own language, which is likely to interfere with the way you should ask questions in English. For instance, you might be tempted to ask questions like this "Where you went yesterday?" "Why you arrived late?", etc. Questions like this are QUITE WRONG.

To ask a Wh-question correctly in English, we must put the Wh-word in front of a yes/no question. In Direct English you are trained to do this from Book 1, Unit 4, Lesson 1 onwards, using the technique "Ask me if ...":

CD: Ask me if Mr. Yamamoto is in his room.

YOU: Is Mr. Yamamoto in his room?

CD: Where ...?

YOU: Where is (Where's) Mr. Yamamoto? (Not *Where Mr. Yamamoto?*, etc.)

CD: Ask me if Carl and Peter went to Latin America.

YOU: Did Carl and Peter go to Latin America?

CD: Where ...?

YOU: Where did Carl and Peter go? (Not *Where Carl and Peter went?*)

Practised over a long period, this technique prevents you from asking incorrect questions and you will become very fluent in the question-forms.

Answering Wh- and How questions is less of a problem, because you ask yourself what the 'target' of each question is and answer it accordingly.

For example:

WHEN ...? Target: time. Answers with: Yesterday, At 4 o'clock, etc.
When did Carl and Peter go to Latin America? - Last year.

WHERE ...? Target: place. Answers with: At (the office), In (the USA), etc.
Where did Mr. Yamamoto stay in Boston? - At the Sheraton.

WHY ...? Target: reason. Answers with: Because ... or to-infinitive.
Why did Anne ask Dean some questions? - Because she wanted to find out what he could do.
Why did Anne ask Dean some questions? - To find out what he could do.

WHAT ...? Target: object. Answers with a word, phrase or sentence.
What did Kevin order at the restaurant? - A hamburger special with french fries.

WHICH ...? Target: choice of two. - Answers with a word or phrase.
Which bag does Carl like best? - The one that's made of strong nylon.

WHOSE ...? Target: possession. Answers with name + apostrophe s/s apostrophe.
Whose shirt was spoiled at the laundry? - Jeff's.

WHO(M) ...? Target: a person (object).
Who(m) did Anne interview? - Dean.

WHO ...? Target: a person (subject).
Who took Kevin's order at the restaurant? - The waiter (did).
(Note Who + verb in this type of question, not "Who did take ...?")

HOW ...? Target: manner. Answers with -ly or By + -ing.
How did George draw a picture? - Very badly.
How did George explain his idea to Nina? - By drawing a picture.

 

© LG & DE Limited 2006

 

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