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Information Questions: Information Questions (#2) with BE

Dennis Oliver
Information Questions (#2):


There are six basic forms used in making information
("Wh-") questions: two if the verb is BE, two if there 
is an auxiliary verb and a main verband two if there
is only a verb (not BE and not with an auxiliary).



Forming Information Questions
with BE

If the verb is BE, there are two forms for information
questions. If the question asks about the subject (or part
of the subject), the form is

Wh + BE + other words?


??? is in the kitchen. --->
Who is in the kitchen?

The ??? man is Bob's father. / 
The man ??? is Bob's father. --->
Which man is Bob's father?

???'s brother was with us yesterday. --->
Whose brother was with us yesterday?

???'s books are on the coffee table. --->
Whose books are on the coffee table?

??? is in the oven. --->
What is in the oven?

??? people were at the meeting. --->
How many people were at the meeting?
(What kind of people were at the meeting?)

??? sugar is in this cake. --->
How much sugar is in this cake?

The car ??? is Bill's. ---> Which car is Bill's?



If the verb is BE and if the question asks about words
that are after the subject, the form is

Wh + BE + subject + other words?


Bill is ??? --->
Where is Bill?

The party was ??? ---> How was the party?
(When was the party? / Where was the party?)

The party was at ???'s house. --->
Whose house was the party at? [informal] /
At whose house was the party? [formal / careful]

This is ???'s book. --->
Whose book is this?

Nancy was upset ??? ---> Why was Nancy upset?
(How come Nancy was upset? / What was Nancy
upset for?)

There were ??? people at the concert. --->
How many people were there at the concert?

Mr. Soto's office is on the ??? floor. --->
Which floor is Mr. Soto's office on? [informal] /
On which floor is Mr. Soto's office? [formal / careful]

The meeting was ???. --->
How was the meeting? / Where was the meeting? /
When was the meeting? / What time was the meeting?

Yasuhiro was ??? angry. --->
How angry was Yasuhiro?

The twins were ??? on their last birthday. --->
How old were the twins on their last birthday?

The lecture was ??? long. --->
How long was the lecture?



Special Notes



Contractions of "Wh- words" and is are
very common, especially in speaking:

Where is ---> Where's

When is ---> When's

What is ---> What's

Who is ---> Who's

Why is ---> Why's

How is ---> How's


In informal conversation, you will also hear
contractions of "Wh- words" and 
are, but
these contractions are not usually written:

Where are ---> (Where're)

When are ---> (When're)

What are ---> (What're)

Who are ---> (Who're)

How are ---> (How're)



For formal (careful) writing and speaking,
many people believe that questions or
statements with a 
preposition at the end
are not beautiful (not good style). Questions
and statements ending with a preposition
are common in speaking, but for careful
writing, combine the preposition with the
question word:

The papers are in the ??? room. --->

Which room are the papers in? [informal]
In which room are the papers? [formal / careful]

That paragraph is from the ??? page. --->

Which page is that paragraph from? [informal]
From which page is that paragraph?
[formal / careful]

Their house is near ??? Street. --->

Which street is their house near? [informal]
Near which street is their house? [formal / careful]

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