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Yes / No Questions: Yes / No Question #2: Verbs with Auxiliaries

Dennis Oliver
Simple (Yes / No) Questions #2


Simple (Yes No) questions in English are made in
three similar but different ways. The form of simple
questions depends on whether the statement from which
the question is made has

1. BE (but no other verb), or
2. an auxiliary verb (including BE) and
main verb, or
3. only a main verb (not BE and not with


Making Simple Questions:
Auxiliary Verbs + Main Verbs

Many English sentences use both auxiliary verbs and
main verbs. There are three main types of auxiliary verbs:

type examples 

progressive forms:

is going / was doing

passive forms:

is eaten / were stolen

other uses of BE:

is able to go / are supposed to go /
were (adjective) to go / were about
to go / are going to go

has, have,

perfect tenses:

has finished / have gone /
had eaten / had left

other uses of has, have, had:
had better go / have got to go /
have got ( = have )

may go / should go / must go
will go / would rather go /
would like to go / may have gone /
should have gone / would have gone

To make simple questions when there is an auxiliary verb,
the form is

auxiliary + subject + main verb + other words?


Joe's wearing an earring. ---> Is Joe wearing an earring?

Their car was stolen. ---> Was their car stolen?

She's able to go. ---> Is she able to go?

You're ready to leave. ---> Are you ready to leave?

He was about to say something. --->
Was he about to say something?

She's already finished. ---> Has she already finished?

They'd left when you arrived. --->
Had they left when you arrived?

He'd better not leave. ---> Had he better not leave?

You've got the time. ---> Have you got the time?

She's got to study. ---> Has she got to study?

We should stop now. ---> Should we stop now?

We must accept the results. --->
Must we accept the results?

You'd rather be alone. --->
Would you rather be alone?

He'd like to help. ---> Would he like to help?

He should have helped. ---> Should he have helped?

They would have helped us. --->
Would they have helped us?



Answering Simple Questions:
Verbs with Auxiliary Verbs

For simple questions with an auxiliary verb before the
main verb, there are three possible answers: with Yes,
with No, and with I don't know. The answers with Yes
and No can be complete sentences or "abbreviated
forms." In the "abbreviated forms," the auxiliary verb
is repeated.



Is Joe going to stay? --->

Yes, Joe (he) is going to stay. / 
Yes, he is. /

No, Joe (he) isn't (he's not) going to stay. / 
No, he isn't. (No, he's not.) /

I don't know.

Have Alice and Bob been here? --->

Yes, Alice and Bob (they) have been here.

Yes, they have.


No, Alice and Bob (they) haven't (they've not)
been here.

No, they haven't.


I don't know.

Would you like to join us? --->

Yes, I would (I'd) like to join you.

Yes, I would.


No, I wouldn't (I'd not) like to join you.

No, I wouldn't.


I don't know.




Special Notes:


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

Is Joe ready to leave?

Yes, Joe's (he's) ready to leave.
No, he isn't (he's not) ready to leave.

Has the train left?

Yes, it's left.
No, it hasn't (it's not) left.


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

Has Joe got to leave?

Yes, he has.
No, he hasn't (he's not).

wrong: *Yes, he's.

Would you like something to eat?

Yes, I would.
No, I wouldn't.

wrong: *Yes, I'd.


In the expression ought toought is
used like an auxiliary:

He ought to be here. --->
Ought he to be here?

This use of ought is very formal, however,
and it's not very common (Should is more
common than ought in questions.)


If there is more than one auxiliary verb,
the first auxiliary is the one that comes
before the subject in questions. It's also
the one that is used in "abbreviated" answers:

She's been working hard. --->
Has she been working hard?

He might have left. --->
Might he have left?

The winners have been announced. --->
Have the winners been announced?


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