Unit 11.1

Wh- Questions in Past form



There are two main types of questions: Wh-questions and yes/no questions .

Wh-questions always begin with one of the Wh-question words (when,wherewhywhichwhatwhosewhowhom and how), that show what kind of information is wanted. These questions are also called Open Questions because the possible answers to them are infinite.

We can also use them to ask questions about the past.

{See Wh-Questions, A1 level}


To ask questions about the past, it is sufficient just to conjugate the verb in the past form.

  • With an auxiliary verb:
    Wh- question word + auxiliary verb (past form) + subject + verb +…?
  • Without an auxiliary verb:
    What/Who + verb (past form) + …?
    Which/Whose + noun + verb (past form) + …?
  • With a modal verb:
    Wh- question word + modal verb (past form) + subject + verb + …?
    Wh- question word + auxiliary verb (past form) + subject + modal verb + verb + …?


  • With an auxiliary verb
    • Where did you travel last year?
    • Why did you buy a new car?
    • What did you do yesterday?
  • Without an auxiliary verb
    • What broke the PC?
    • Who called the police?
    • Whose phone rang?
  • With a modal verb
    • How should he tell her he is a prince?
    • What could I do at that moment?
    • Why did you need to judge everyone?


We can use Wh-words to form questions in the past:

  1. With an auxiliary verb;
  2. Without an auxiliary verb;
  3. With a modal verb.


As previously discussed, we tend to use wh-questions in English. These are questions which always begin with one of the wh-question words (whenwherewhywhichwhatwhosewhowhom and how), which show what kind of information is wanted.

These questions can be formed with an auxiliary verb, without an auxiliary verb and with a modal verb. We can also use wh-words to form questions in the past with these verbs, please refer to the Form section to see how we form these sentences.

For example:
— “Where did you sleep last night?” = It asks for the place where the action happens.
— “When will you arrive?” = It asks for the time when the action happens.

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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