doctor and patient

A: What's giving me this pain in my shoulder?

B: We'll do some tests and find out.

Inversion: Auxiliary Before Subject

Normally, the auxiliary verb (or modal verb) goes before the subject in questions. This word order is called "inversion".

  Inversion Word Order in Questions
They have seen the movie. Have they seen the movie?
She is staying with her sister until tomorrow. Is she staying with her sister until tomorrow?
We can use his car. Can we use his car?
You are doing homework. Are you doing homework?
She has already gone home. Has she already gone home?
It will rain tomorrow. Will it rain tomorrow?

If there is no other auxiliary verb, we use do, does, or did to form a question:

You like soccer.

  • Do you like soccer?

He had a great time last night.

  • Did he have a great time last night?

It rains a lot in this city.

  • Does it rain a lot in this city?

Subject Questions: No Inversion

When who, what, which, whose, how many, etc. are the subject of the sentence, we do not use inversion:

  Questions without Inversion
Steve went to the party. Who went to the party?
Thirteen people are sitting in the room. How many people are sitting in the room?
Chlorophyl makes trees green. What makes trees green?
The construction is making so much noise. What is making so much noise?
My car is sitting outside. Whose car is sitting outside?
Best Buy sells that computer. Which store sells that computer?

We use question words as the subject of the sentence because we are asking for the subject (or information about the subject):

Asking for the Subject
Who asked?
Who is singing?
What happened?
Asking for the Object
Who did you ask?
What is she singing?
What did you do?


It is common for a preposition to come at end of a question:

  • Where did you come from?
  • What is he talking about?
  • What is Michael interested in?
  • What are you good at?
  • Who do you live with?

Negative Questions

The auxiliary of a question can be negative. Be careful of the form:

Contracted Form: Auxiliary Verb + n't + Subject

Long Form: Auxiliary Verb + Subject + Not

Why didn't you call me last night?

Why did you not call me last night?

Where hasn't she been in the world?

Where has she not been in the world?

Who haven't you met yet?

Who have you not met yet?

Declarative Questions

Declarative questions are used when the speaker wants to make sure of something or express surprise. Declarative questions do not use inversion:

A: I'm a vegetarian.

B: Seriously? You don't eat meat at all? (Expressing surprise)

A: Mike and I are going out for dinner.

B: Okay. I'll stay home.

A: You don't want to come with us? (Making sure)

A: I'm from France.

B: Really? You're from France? I thought you were from Germany! (Expressing surprise)


Open the exercise to begin the activity. Follow the instructions in the document.