Monday, July 22, 2013

Notes on Yes/No Questions

Yes/no questions can be answered with a yes or no, and they normally carry up-rise intonation.

You would like to go swimming.  
Would you like to go swimming?

For sentences with auxiliaries, modal verbs, or copular be, yes/no questions are formed by applying the subject–auxiliary inversion.

You would do the same thing.
Would you do the same thing?

He is a hard worker.
Is he a hard worker?

For sentences without auxiliaries, modal verbs, or copular be, apply do insertion to form a yes/no question.

He runs every day.
Does he run every day?

You remembered your passport.
Did you remember your passport?

Positive yes/no questions do not imply any expectation regarding whether the answer will be yes or no.

Do you like winter sports?
Will you be joining us?

Negative yes/no questions are generally asked to confirm an assumption or expectation.

Didn’t he tell you about it?
(Implication: I thought he had OR I’m sure he did.)

They can also express annoyance or disappointment because a previous expectation has not been met.

Haven’t you called him yet?
(Implication: You were supposed to call him.)

Reduced yes/no questions are shortened question forms sometimes used in informal conversation. There are two types:

a. Elliptical yes/no questions omit auxiliary verbs and copular be.

He been talking to you?
They here yet?

b. Declarative questions have the form of a statement. They are used to:

• check information
A: The food there is great.
B: You’ve eaten there before?

• repeat something someone has said in order to question or confirm it
A: I lost my job yesterday.
B: You lost your job?

• express surprise or amazement
A: I can’t believe we lost after being up by 10 points.
B: You lost the game?!


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