Simple questions (that is, questions to which one can respond by a simple "yes" or "no") may be formed in three different ways:
1. "Do": one precedes an assertion with "do" or "does" (or "don"t" or "doesn"t" for a negative expression, or "did", "didn"t" for the past):
2. Inversion: with certain verbs (especially the verbs "to be", "to do", "to have", and modal verbs) questions are formed by inverting the subject and . (In the case of the verb "to have," which is usually combined with "do" in interrogatives, inversion signals a literary style.)
- Is Jack home?
- Have you nothing to declare?
- Would you like to go to the movies?
- Will they ever come to visit?
- Can the employees talk to the boss?
- Won"t you sit down?
3. Modal phrases: If a modal verb is used in a sentence, or if it is strongly implied, a modal phrase can be used to make an interrogative form. The modal phrase is typically an inversion of the subject and verb, in the negative, repeated at the end of the sentence:
(See also: negations)
Simple questions solicit a "yes" or "no" answer. More precise questions may be formed by using the interrogative adverbs: when, why, how, how much, where. Generally, the interrogative adverb precedes the rest of the question; then the order of the sentence follows the rules indicated for inversion or for questions formed with "do / does".
- Where are you going?
- Why do you want to take this class?
- How much do you earn a month?
- How do these machines work? (Où vont ces étudiants ?)
- When do you expect to get home? (A quelle heure penses-tu rentrer ?)
See also: Questions, Interrogative pronouns.
Interrogative pronouns are used to ask who has done what, to whom, why, with what, etc. Normally these pronouns are placed at the beginning of the sentence; hen the order of the sentence follows the rules indicated for inversion or for questions formed with "do / does".
One chooses the pronoun based on its function, according to the following table:
| ||grammatical subject ||grammatical || of a preposition
|pronoun of selection
subject (person): who + question
- Who did this painting?
- Who wants to get an ice cream?
subject (thing): what + question
- What interests you?
- What is good in this restaurant?
direct (person): whom + question
- Whom did you see in France?
- Whom are you going to meet at this reception?
direct (thing): what + question
- What do you want to do this evening?
- What are you preparing?
of a preposition (person): preposition + whom + question
of a preposition (thing): preposition + what + question
Which, which one, which ones
The adjective "which" and its pronominal forms ("which", "which one", "which ones") ask that a person make a choice. Usually these pronouns will be placed at the beginning of the sentence; Normalement, ces pronoms se trouveront au début de la phrase ; then the order of the sentence follows the rules indicated for inversion or for questions formed with "do / does".
- Which film do you want to see?
- Which date did you choose?
- Here are two pizzas. Which one do you prefer?
- There are many different Burgundy wines. Which ones do you like?