Unit 11.1

Wh- Questions in Present Form (interrogative)


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Introduction

In the interrogative form, Wh- questions always begin with one of the wh- question words (interrogative pronouns), which show what kind of information is wanted.

The wh- questions in the present tense are used to ask for information in the present.

Form

To create a wh- question, we place an auxiliary or a modal verb after the wh- question word and before a subject.

In the present tense (both simple and continuous), we use the present forms of the auxiliary and modal verbs.

The interrogative form of wh- questions in present form have this estructure:

  • with an auxiliary verb:
    Wh- question word + auxiliary verb (present form) + subject + verb + …?
  • with a modal verb:
    Wh- question word + modal verb (present form) + subject + verb + …?
  • without an auxiliary verb:
    What/who + verb (third person singular) + …?
    Which/whose + noun + verb (third person singular/plural) + …?

The wh- question words are: whenwherewhywhichwhatwhosewhowhom and how.

Example

  1. When does the train leave?
  2. Where do you buy bread?
  3. Why have you got five cars?
  4. Which house is yours?
  5. What can I do now?
  6. Whose computer is this?
  7. Who speaks German in our group?
  8. Whom does he like?
  9. How old are you?

Use

The wh- words that are used to make questions are:

  1. when (to ask for information about time);
  2. where (to ask for information about place);
  3. why (to ask for a reason);
  4. which (to ask for information about a preference between two or more things);
  5. what (to ask for information about something);
  6. whose (to ask for information about who something belongs to);
  7. who (to ask for information about people, as a subject);
  8. whom (to ask for information about people, as an object);
  9. how* (to ask for information about the way something is done, the way something happens).

These questions are also called open questions because the possible answers to them are infinite.

*How does not start with wh-, but it is also considered to be a wh- question.

Summary

Wh-questions start with one of the wh- question words: what, when, where, which, who, whom, whose, why and how.

The wh- question words introduce the questions.

For example:
— “Where is the toilet?” = Where introduces an open question, because you can give an infinite number of answers.
♦ “Is there a toilet?” = Yes/no questions require short answers followed by yes or no, they are also called closed questions.

NOTE: An auxiliary (be/have) or a modal verb (can/could/would) must be placed after a wh- question and before a subject.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

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