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Practice with the exercises:
Exercise 1

1. Subject and object questions

In English there are two different types of questions using question words:

OBJECT QUESTIONS
When we want to know information about how, when, where, why..., the subject performs an action.
SUBJECT QUESTIONS

When we want to know who or what performs the action.

OBJECT QUESTIONS
Where does Mary work? In a bank.
SUBJECT QUESTIONS
Who works in a bank? Mary.

2. Structure of object questions

The object questions are the most common questions in English. They are used to find out where, when, why... the subject performs a certain action, that is, we ask questions about the complements of a sentence.

These types of questions follow the structure below:

Question word + auxiliary verb + subject + main verb + (complements)?

Let's imagine we have the following sentence:

We can ask two object questions:

What did Jeremy buy in Ireland?

QW + auxiliary verb + subject + main verb + complement (adverbial of place)

- What did Jeremy buy in Ireland?
- He bought a nice mug.

Where did Jeremy buy this nice mug?

QW + auxiliary verb + subject + main verb + direct object

- Where did Jeremy buy this nice mug?
- In Ireland.

The auxiliary verb depends on the verb tense used. In this case it's did because the verb in the sentence Jeremy bought a nice mug in Ireland is in the simple past tense.

3. Structure of subject questions

Subject questions are used to find out who or what performs the action, i.e. we ask questions about the subject of a sentence.

These types of questions follow the structure below:

Question word + main verb + (complements)?

We will take the same sentence as above as a reference:

In this case we can only ask one subject question:

Who bought this nice mug in Ireland?

Question word + main verb + direct object + adverbial of place?

- Who bought this nice mug in Ireland?
- Jeremy.

If we wanted to use the usual structure (object question), we would see that it's not possible, as the answer would be in the question:

Who did Jeremy buy this nice mug in Ireland?

      QW + auxiliary verb + subject + main verb + direct object + adverbial of place?

4. Comments on subject questions

  • QWs usually used with subject questions are the following:
    Question word Examples
    WHO? Who answered the phone?
    WHAT? What happended at the party?
    WHICH?1 Which car arrived first?
    WHOSE?1 Whose dog bit you?
    HOW MANY?1 How many people attended the concert?

    1With how many, whose and which, we can put a noun after the question word if necessary.

  • Although in object questions we always need an auxiliary verb, in subject questions in present simple and past simple, the auxiliary verb (do / does / did) is omitted.
    Who goes to bed early?
    How many athletes took part in the race?

    When the verb tense needs an auxiliary or modal verb in all its forms, it will not be omitted.

    Who is eating an apple?
    Who should buy a new car?

Remember!

  Use Structure
SUBJECT QUESTIONS Who or what performs the action Question word + main verb + (complement)?
- Who gave you the sweets?   - Grandma.
OBJECT QUESTIONS How, when, where... the subject performs an action QW + auxiliary verb + subject + main verb + (complement)?
- Where does you sister live?   - In Chicago.

 

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