Technically, there are three types of Yes-No questions in English:
- Inverted questions (ex. Are you happy?)
- Inverted alternative questions (ex. Are you happy or sad?)
- Tag questions (ex. You’re happy, aren’t you?)
1. Inverted Questions
To make an inverted question the verb must be either a modal (can, could, may, might, must, ought, shall, should, will, would) or a helping verb (do, be, have, use). Simply switch (invert) the subject and the verb of the matching sentence.
Sentence: He can swim really well. (*can = modal can)
Question: Can he swim really well?
Sentence: He is a teacher. (*is = helping verb be)
Question: Is he a teacher?
Sentence: He doesn’t like drinking beer. (*doesn’t = helping verb do)
Question: Doesn’t he like drinking beer?
2. Inverted Alternative Questions
Inverted alternative questions are just like inverted questions except they include an alternative (another option). The answer may require more than a simple yes or no as an answer.
|Can he swim really well or not?||
|Is he a teacher or a principal?||
|Doesn’t he like drinking beer or only wine?||
3. Tag Questions
Tag questions are short questions added at the end of a sentence. Tag questions are often used to verify that something is true. Tag questions usually consist of a modal or helping verb and a subject pronoun (repeating the subject of the sentence).
*Tricky part: If the main verb is be, then we also use the correct form of be in the tag question.
- This Saturday the team will play baseball, won’t they? (*will = modal, so use won’t.)
- You‘re not leaving now, are you? (*be = helping verb for the main verb leave, so use are.)
- That‘s coffee, isn’t it? (*be = main verb, so use isn’t.)
If there is no modal or helping verb in the sentence (only a main verb), then the tag question will use the correct form of the helping verb do.
- He walks to work, doesn’t he? (*main verb = walks, so tag question uses does.)
- The children opened all of their presents, didn’t they? (*opened = past tense, so the tag question uses did.)
- You and I didn’t go to the same high school, did we?