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Structure: Question words

Asking questions

Asking yes / no questions

We can use yes / no questions to ask some questions. However, the answers can only be yes or no.

  • eg Do you fly the 737?
    • Yes I fly the 737 / No I don’t fly the 737.

What are question words?

Question words are words that we use to ask more specific types of questions. To ask these more specific question we use words such as;

  • why
  • when
  • what
  • which
  • who
  • where
  • how

Word order with question words

When creating questions with question words we use the same word order as with yes / no questions.

So for example

  • ‘Do you fly the 737?’ is a yes / no question but we can add a question word so it becomes…
    • Why do you fly the 737?’
      • We use why to ask about the reason for something.
    • I fly the 747 because my company put me on that equipment, but I really like it.
  • “Do you work?’ is also a yes / no question and we can add a question word so it becomes…
    • When do you work?
      • We use when to ask about the time of something.
    • I can work at any time of the day or night, I have a monthly schedule which is always different.


  • What plane is that? (Question with ‘be’)
    • What is used to ask more generally about things.
  • That’s a 747.
  • Which flight is more comfortable, the American Airlines one or the Delta one? (Question with ‘be’)
    • Which is usually used in relation to restricted options but what suggests no restrictions.
      • The American Airlines one is more comfortable.
  • Who did you see on the flight?
    • Who asks about people.
  • We saw John and Mary on the flight.
  • Where do you work?
    • Where relates to places.
  • I work at Lufthansa.
  • How do you study?
    • How relates to the way something is done.
  • I like to write notes and examples because it helps me to remember the information.

Question words can be used in all of our tenses in English so if you wish to know how to create a question in a specific tense check the information in relation to that tense on our tense page here.

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