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Yes/No Questions #1: BE, by Dennis Oliver

 
Simple (Yes / No) Questions (#1)

 

Simple (Yes / No) questions in English are formed in
three similar but different ways. The form of simple
questions depends on whether the statement from which
the question is made has BE (but no other verb), an
auxiliary verb (including BE) and a main verb, or
only a main verb (not BE and not with an auxiliary.)

 

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Making Simple Questions with BE

 

To make simple questions with a form of BE (is, am, are,
was, were), the form is BE + subject + other words ?

Examples:

Joe is here today. ---> Is Joe here today?

Alice and Bob were in an accident. --->
Were Alice and Bob in an accident?

I'm on time. ---> Am I on time?

The weather was nice yesterday. --->
Was the weather nice yesterday?

You're tired. ---> Are you tired?

 

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Answering Simple Questions with BE


For simple questions with BE, there are three possible
answers: with Yes, with No, and I don't know. The
answers with Yes and No can be either complete
sentences or "abbreviated forms":

Examples:

Is Joe here today? --->

Yes, Joe (he) is here today.
Yes, he is.
Yes.

No, Joe (he) isn't here today.
No, he isn't. (No, he's not.)
No.

I don't know.

Were Alice and Bob in an accident? --->

Yes, Alice and Bob (they) were
in an accident.

Yes, they were.

Yes.

No, Alice and Bob (they) were not
(weren't) in an accident.

No, they weren't.

No.

I don't know.

etc.

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Special Notes:

1.  

Contractions are very common in complete
answers--with both Yes and No:

Were Alice and Bob in an accident?

Yes, they were in an accident.
No, they weren't in an accident.

Am I on time?

Yes, you're on time.
No, you aren't (you're not) on time.

     
2.  

Contractions are also common in "abbreviated"
answers, but only with No:

Is Joe here today?

Yes, he is.
No, he isn't (he's not).

wrong: *Yes, he's.

Was Joe here yesterday?

Yes, he was.
No, he wasn't.

     
3.  

The full form for "I don't know" is almost never
used, but it is "I don't know whether (or not)
_____ (or not)" or "I don't know if _____
or not):

Is Joe here today? --->

I don't know whether or not he's here today. /
I don't know whether he's here today or not. /
I don't know if he's here today. /
I don't know if he's here today or not.

 

Were Alice and Bob in an accident? --->

I don't know whether or not they were in
an accident. / I don't know whether they were
in an accident or not. / I don't know if the
were in an accident. / I don't know if they
were in an accident or not.

etc.

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