Making questions in English can be complicated. 

In Arabic, for example, people put hall (pronounced like hell) in the front of a sentence that is a question. In contrast, English has four ways to create questions:

Adapted from an answer by Shaban Rashed in Quora.com.

    • Place the verb before the main sentence
    • Add a verb before the main sentence
    • Add a question mark
    • Add a wh- form


Arabic                                                                                English

Hall you happy?                                                     Are you happy?

Hall you came late yesterday?                               Did you come late yesterday?

Hall you like soccer?                                             Do you like soccer?

Hall you ever been to Arabia?                               Have you ever been to Arabia?

Hall you think Arabic is difficult to learn?           Do you think Arabic is difficult to learn?

Hall this answer helpful?                                      Was/Is this answer helpful?  

Move Verb to Before the Main Sentence

Here, you move the first verb from its typical place and put it before the left-hand section of the tree.  For example:

Insert a New Verb Before the Main Sentence

Here, you insert an extra verb, such as a form of do (called a “dummy do”) before the main sentence:

Sometimes, much of the sentence is understood:

No. Did you?

Add Question Mark

To create a question, many people do not move the first verb. They simply drop it and add a question mark.

Use a -Wh Form

A fourth way to create questions in English is to insert a -wh word. These are also called interrogatives. We will color them a very light green.






How?  (the wh is reversed)

Who and What

Who and what are pronouns if they are not attached to a noun.  If attached, they are determiners:

Pronoun:        What is the answer?

Determiner:   What time is it?

Who becomes whose if it’s a determiner:

Pronoun:        Who ate my porridge?

Determiner:   Whose pen is this?

Who vs. Whom

Many people have difficulty knowing when to use who and when to use whom.

    1. Say the sentence in a natural way, but use he or him instead of who or whom.

Who/Whom is getting married?
He is getting married.

Who/Whom do you trust?
Do you trust him?

2. If you can use he instead of who/whom, then the answer is who. If you can use him instead of who/whom, then the answer is whom.

Who is getting married?
Whom do you trust?

3. If both he or him work, the answer usually will be whom.

Give the ball to whoever/whomever is best shot.
Give the ball to him.
He is the best shot.
Give the ball to whomever is the best shot.

4. If whom is the first word in a sentence, we usually use who, since it’s less formal.

Who do you trust?

When, Where, How

When, where, and how can be adverbs or (lesser) conjunctions:

Adverb: When will you be home?
Conjunction: I will walk the dog when the game is over.

Adverb: Where are you going?Conjunction: I need to know where you put the computer cord.

Adverb: How are you?Conjunction: I don’t know how I will pass calculus.


Why can be an adverb, conjunction, or interjection:

Adverb:          Why didn’t you study?

Conjunction: I will ask him why he didn’t show up.

Interjection: Why! That’s what I keep asking myself.  Why!

Individual or Small Group Activity

Complete the exercise:         Slovakia

Optional Activity