Four and a half types of sentence

Types of sentence

Questions

Questions are the opposite of a statement. They ask for information.

What's your name?

The Adventures of Tom SawyerMark TwainSource

One of the most obvious features of a question is that it ends in a question mark, but there are other signs.

Many questions have a question word (who, what, when, where, why, how, which).

You might also hear 'question words' be called 'interrogative words'

Where, in this wilderness, could they bolt to?

Watership DownRichard AdamsSource
Your turn
Tangent: A closer look at clause structure in questions

Question words are great when the answer is a person, thing, time, place, or reason, but not for a simple yes or no question.

In that situation, we need to do something else, like this:

"Did he do it?"

The Secret CommonwealthPhillip PullmanSource

Notice that with these questions, we can get a statement by just reversing the verb helper and the subject of the clause. So:

"Did he do it?"

The Secret CommonwealthPhillip PullmanSource

Becomes:

"He did do it."

Here are a couple more examples of this kind of question.

Mayn't I go and play now, aunt?

The Adventures of Tom SawyerMark TwainSource

"Are you familiar with the Latin term 'in loco parentis'?"

The Bad BeginningLemony SnicketSource
Where's the main verb!?
Your turn

There's one more common type of question. How would you answer a question like this?

"Then we're okay for now, right?"

The MartianAndy Weir

Just like the last 3 snippets, you can answer this question with a yes or no. Instead of swapping the subject and tense helper, the question is added at the end like a tag. Removing the 'tag' creates a statement.

"Then we're okay for now, right?"

The MartianAndy Weir

Tag questions are one way you can create what's known as a leading question. Leading questions are ones where people are more likely to answer in a particular way. Compare these two questions:

Leading question: Then we're okay for now, right?

Neutral question: Are we okay for now?

The leading question is seeking affirmation. The asker wants the answer to be "Yes, we're okay for now."

The neutral question doesn't suggest a specific answer.

What answers are these tag questions leading to?

We weren't going to live here forever, were we?

The Secret CommonwealthPhillip PullmanSource
Your turn
Our answer

"We are blocked up, then?"

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the SeaJules VerneSource
Your turn
Our answer

Oh, you think you're mighty smart, don't you?

The Adventures of Tom SawyerMark TwainSource
Your turn
Our answer
Your turn
Your turn

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