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What Is a Direct Question? (with Examples)

What Is a Direct Question? (with Examples)

A direct question can be answered (i.e., it is not a statement) and always ends in a question mark. For example:
  • Did Lee catch a large dogfish?
A sentence with an indirect question might not end in a question mark. The sentence below contains an indirect question:
  • Lee asked us whether we believed him about the 10-pound dogfish.
  • (This is a statement which contains an indirect question. It is a declarative sentence.)
A direct question is an interrogative sentence.

Examples of Direct Questions

There are 3 basic types of question:
  • Yes/No Questions.

    Example: Do you like celery?
  • (The answer to a yes/no question will be yes or no.)
    (Answer to this question: No.)
  • "Question Word" Questions.

    Example: What is celery salt?
  • (The answer to a "question word" question will be some information.)
    (Answer: Celery salt is a seasoned salt made from ground celery seeds and table salt.)
  • Choice Questions.

    Example: Do you want garlic salt or celery salt?
  • (The answer to a choice question will be in the question.)
    (Answer: Garlic salt)

Forming Yes/No Questions (with Examples)

Yes/no questions are formed:

Auxiliary Verb + Subject + Main Verb + Remainder

Here are some examples of yes/no questions:

Auxiliary VerbSubjectMain VerbRemainder Possible Answer
CanSimonswim? No, he can't.
Hasshefinishedscreaming?No, she hasn't.
DoesPeterwantto stay?Yes, he does.
Didtheyleavesoon after me?Yes, they did.
Willyoubehappy?Yes, I will.

With the verb to be in the present tense or the past tense, the format is:

Verb To BeSubjectRemainder Possible Answer
Areyouhappy?Yes, I am.
Washehappy?Yes, he was.

Note: As an auxiliary verb is required to form the future tense, the format for the verb to be in the future tense is the same as normal. (Look at the last row of the first table above.)

Forming "Question Word" Questions

"Question word" questions are formed:

Question Word + Auxiliary Verb + Subject + Main Verb + Remainder

Here are some examples of "question word" questions:

Question WordAuxiliary VerbSubjectMain VerbRemainder Possible Answer
Wheredidshego? London.
Whyhavetheystartedthe play early?Because of the rain.
WhenwillLeecatcha decent bass? Probably never.
Whomishefightingon Saturday? Some French lunatic.

When the question word is who, the format is:

Question Word
(and Subject)
Main VerbRemainderPossible Answer
WhotaughtLee to fish?No one.
Whois thinkingabout Saturday?I am.

When using the verb to be in the present or past tense, the format is:

Question WordVerb To BeSubjectRemainderPossible Answer
WhenisEaster Sunday? Before Easter Monday.
Whyareyouangry?No reason.

Read more about the question words:

What are interrogative pronouns?
What are interrogative adjectives?

Forming Choice Questions

Choice questions are formed:

Auxiliary Verb + Subject + Main Verb + Choice 1 + "or" + Choice 2

Here are some examples of choice questions:

Auxiliary VerbSubjectMain VerbChoice 1orChoice 2Possible Answer
Doyoudrinkteaorcoffee?Tea.
DidLeecatcha whelkora bass?A whelk.

When using the verb to be in the present or past tense, the format is:

Verb To BeSubjectChoice 1orChoice 2Possible Answer
Isittrueorfalse?It's true.
Wereyoudisappointedorangry?Angry.
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