Yes-No Questions English (Grammar)

Yes-No Questions English (Grammar)

This is the (Grammar) version of Yes-No questions. Are you looking for the Yes-No Questions Present Tense Simple version? Or maybe the Yes-No Questions Past Tense Simple version?

Technically, there are three types of Yes-No questions in English:

  1. Inverted questions (ex. Are you happy?)
  2. Inverted alternative questions (ex. Are you happy or sad?)
  3. Tag questions (ex. You’re happy, aren’t you?)

Yes-No Questions image

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.

Examples

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.

Examples

Question Possible Answers
Can he swim really well or not?
  • Yes, he can swim really well.
  • No, he can’t swim very well.
  • He can swim, but not very well.
  • He doesn’t know how to swim at all.
Question Possible Answers
Is he a teacher or a principal?
  • He’s a teacher.
  • He’s a principal.
  • Neither, he’s just a parent.
  • He’s both.
Question Possible Answers
Doesn’t he like drinking beer or only wine?
  • No, he doesn’t like drinking beer.
  • No, he only drinks wine.
  • No, he doesn’t drink either.
  • Yes, he likes drinking beer, but usually he drinks 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.

Examples

  • 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?