Sentences that ask a question are called interrogative sentences. They’re easy to spot -they always end with a question mark (?). But it’s not quite as simple as that. All interrogative sentences are not the same.
There are 4 types of Interrogative sentences.
- Yes/No interrogatives
- Alternative interrogatives.
- Tag questions.
Yes/no interrogatives are questions that can be answered with a yes or a no response. You probably ask or are asked these questions every day.
Here are some examples of yes/no interrogative sentences:
- Mister, can you spare a dime?
- Did you take your vitamin this morning?
- Do you have your homework ready?
- Are you ready to go?
- Did you go to the game Friday night?
For each of the above questions, the answer will be either a yes or no answer.
Alternative interrogatives are questions that provide for two or more alternative answers. In other words, you’re providing a choice.
Examples of alternative interrogative sentences:
- Would you prefer chocolate or vanilla ice cream?
- Should I call or email you?
- Do you want coffee, tea, or soda?
Wh-interrogatives sentences begin with a wh-word and call for an open-ended answer. A yes or no answer isn’t appropriate for these questions, nor does the question provide alternative answers. The answer can be a simple response or complex explanation.
Examples of wh-interrogative sentences:
- What are you doing?
- Where do you live?
- Who is playing in the Super Bowl?
- What is the meaning of this?
- Which songs do you like best?
Tag questions are questions attached or tagged onto the ending of a declarative statement. They transform a declarative sentence into an interrogative sentence.
- You live in the city, don’t you?
- We need to get going now, don’t we?
- There’s a game on today, isn’t there?
- You’re coming to the party, aren’t you?
Sometimes interrogative sentences are actually declarative sentences that have a question mark at the end. If you ask this type of question, the last syllable of the final word in the sentence is spoken with a rising intonation. Here are a few examples.
- The bus has already left?
- The Saints won the Super Bowl?
- It’s snowing in Florida?
- You’ve lost 15 pounds already?
- The Subject of Interrogative Sentences
The subject of interrogative sentences may not be obvious. Typically, you can spot them right after the verb. But there’s a way to make the subject easier to spot. Simply rewrite the question into a statement and then the subject is then easy to find.
Here are some examples below. First you’ll find an interrogative sentence. Immediately following is the declarative form of the sentence with the subject underlined.
- Did you clean up your room? You cleaned up your room.
- Has Jack come to visit? Jack has come to visit.
- Is this Jill’s wallet? This is Jill’s wallet.
Interrogative sentences are the most simple to identify. They always ask a question or request information. Simply look for the question mark at the end and you’ll have no problem finding or understanding the function of interrogative sentences.
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