Interrogative Sentence

1. What is an Interrogative Sentence?

I’ll give you a hint: look at the title of this section. An interrogative sentence is a sentence that asks something. In other words, it’s a question! An interrogative sentence will always end with a question mark (?) and this makes them easy to spot. Along with the other types of sentences, like declarative and exclamatory sentences, interrogative sentences make up the common parts of conversations.

By using interrogative sentences, you can do a lot of different things. You can get information, make requests or suggestions, and lots more. Hopefully, this article will answer all your interrogative sentences about interrogative sentences!

 

2. Examples of Interrogative Sentences

Interrogative sentences are a very important part of the way we talk to one another. They’re how we ask for input from other people and invite them to share what they think. Interrogative sentences are also the way we get information that we need.

Example 1

Dude, where’s my car?

In this example, we’re asking for information about where the car is. It’s a clear question, and we can tell right away because of the question mark and the question word “where”—we’ll talk more about these special words later on.

Example 2

Are you ready to leave?

This example has that question mark, but it doesn’t have a clear question word. It’s still asking for information, but in a different way. This is a yes-or-no question, which is another question type that I’ll explain in section IV.

Interrogative sentences are a necessary part of language, and you’ll definitely be familiar with them. Let’s get into the details, shall we? (See, there’s another question!)

 

3. Parts of Interrogative Sentences

a. Subject

Like any sentence, an interrogative sentence must have a subject. The subject of a sentence is the person, thing, or noun that is being described. In an interrogative sentence, the subject is being asked about.

Example

Where is the house?

In this question, the subject is the house. We’re trying to figure out something about the house, and that makes the house the subject of the question.

b. Pronoun

Sometimes the subject might be harder to find, maybe if it’s a pronoun. A pronoun is a word like he or it that replaces a noun, so then you don’t have to keep repeating it.

Example

Is she awake?

Now the subject of the sentence is she, because we’re asking about this girl and trying to find out if she is awake. The subject will always be the person, place, or thing that you are asking for information about.

If you’re having trouble finding the subject of an interrogative sentence, try rearranging the sentence into a statement that answers the question. In this example, “Is she awake?” would become “She is awake.” Now we can clearly see that the sentence is describing the subject “she” and the it is easier to find!

c. Verb

In the same way that every sentence needs a subject, an interrogative sentence needs a verb. A verb is an action word that describes what something is doing. In an interrogative sentence, the verb will help ask about the subject.

i. Linking Verb

It might be a linking verb. A linking verb connects the subject to more information about the subject. Common linking verbs are is, are, am, and any form of the verb “to be.” Often, these verbs will begin the question, because they help ask about the subject’s state of being.

Example

Am I too early?

The linking verb am lets us ask about the state of being of the subject, which is I. If we rearrange the question into a statement we get “I am too early” and we can see the way the linking verb does its job. It links the subject, I, to more information: too early. This is the way that many questions are formed, with a linking verb at the beginning.

ii. Action Verb

Sometimes a question will use other kinds of verbs. You’re probably going to see action verbs a lot. An action verb is an action that can be done, like run or sleep.

Example

            Did you read?

The verb read is an action verb, because it is an action that we can do. By using action verbs, we can ask if someone has or will do that action. They’re helpful for making suggestions about things you want to do with friends—or asking if you really have to do those chores.

 

Questions can also use more than one kind of verb. In fact, that happens pretty often. But the most important thing to remember is that an interrogative sentence is still a sentence. They have to follow all the same verb rules as any other kind of sentence, even if they rearrange the words a little bit.

 

4. Question Words

Not all interrogative sentences will use question words, but they’re still very common. A question word is a word that helps ask for specific information. Question words are also called WH words, because most of them start with W-H.

Who, what, where, when, why, and how are all of the question words that will help you make interrogative sentences. Each of these words is meant to ask for a certain kind of information. Usually, a question will start with one of these question words.

Example 1

            When do you want to go to bed?

This interrogative sentence starts off with the question word when. This lets us know right away that the sentence is a question, and the answer to the question will involve a time. Each question word will do the same things when it is used in a question: tell us this is a question, and tell us what kind of information will be in the answer.

 

5. Types of interrogative sentences

a. Yes/No Questions

These types of interrogative sentences can be answered with a yes or a no. You’ve probably asked someone a yes or no question today!

Here are a few examples:

  • Have you brushed your teeth?
  • Does he like to read?
  • Can they come downstairs?

 

b. WH Questions

A WH interrogative sentence uses one of the question words that we talked about earlier. If you see any of the question words who, what, where, when, why, or how in a question, then you’re dealing with a WH interrogative sentence.

These questions ask for a specific kind of answer depending on which question word is used. Here are some examples and explanations of the answer that the question word wants.

  • When will you go to school?
    • Ask this question to find out a time.
  • Where is she going?
    • Ask this question to find out a location.

Questions that use how can be a bit trickier to answer. These are more open-ended than interrogative sentences that use the other question words. When you ask a how question, the answer should describe how something happens. Here’s an example how question and an example answer to help you understand.

Example

            Question: How can I ask better questions?

            Answer: Start by figuring out what kind of information you want!

When you know what kind of information you want—time, location, person—you can quickly choose the right question word that will give you the answer you’re looking for.

c. Alternative Questions

An alternative interrogative sentence will give someone options to choose from. They’re similar to yes or no questions, but instead of yes or no the answer will choose an option from the question. There’s no limit to the amount of options you can put into an alternative interrogative sentence, but try to keep it to a small number. The person you’re asking might forget some of the options if you have too many! Here are some examples of alternative interrogative sentences. The different options are colored in red.

  • Do you want a candy cane or a chocolate bar?
  • Would you like this book or that book?
  • Should I get coffee, tea, or water?

Each of these questions offers a choice. They list options for someone to choose from, and that makes them alternative interrogative sentences.

d. Tag Questions

A tag question is just a declarative sentence with a question tagged onto the end. Declarative sentences make statements of fact. Usually the tag at the end will allow for a yes or no answer, but not always. Here’s a chart with declarative sentences and those same sentences turned into tag questions.

Declarative sentenceTag question
You have a new sweater.You have a new sweater, right?
The snow is pretty.The snow is pretty, isn’t it?

 

You can see how easy it is to form tag questions. Just add your question tag at the end and there it is! Tag questions can be useful when you want to spice up the way you ask questions, or when you don’t decide that you want to ask a question until the end of your sentence.

 

6. How to Write Interrogative Sentences

When you’re writing your interrogative questions, the most important thing to consider is the kind of information you’re looking for. Do you want a simple yes or no, or do you want someone to pick an option from a list? There are many ways you can ask something, but each one might give you a different answer. It’s important to understand how to ask correctly.

  1. Start by figuring out what you want to know.
  2. Then, go over the list of question types and decide which kind of interrogative sentence will give you the answer you want.

If you want to ask your friend to go to the movies, you probably want to use a yes/no question. Using a WH question with when might sound rude, because you’re assuming that your friend wants to go without asking them.

Some questions may ask for the same answer in different ways, and that gives you a choice. For example, a yes/no question can give you the same type of information as a tag question. Here are two examples that show how you can use different forms to get the same answer.

Example 1

Do you want to go to the movies?

This is a yes/no question. The person you’re asking will answer with a yes or a no.

Example 2

You want to go to the movies, right?

Now we’ve used a tag question, and the words get a bit rearranged. We’re still asking for the same information though, and the person can answer with a yes or a no just like before.

The difference is the way the question is asked. The first example, the yes/no question, seems a bit more polite than the tag question. The choice depends on how you want to ask the question and what information you want to know.

 

Test your Knowledge

1.
What is an interrogative sentence trying to do?

a.

b.

c.

d.

2.
2. True or False: “How” is not a question word because it doesn’t start with W-H.

a.

b.

3.
When an interrogative sentence gives options to choose from, it’s called an _____________ question.

a.

b.

c.

4.
What is the subject of the following interrogative sentence?

When did she sleep?

a.

b.

c.

d.

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