A Yes/No question is a closed question, meaning that it has one of two answers, yes or no. It asks whether something is true or not, i.e., whether the original positive sentence is valid. A question element needs to precede the subject in order to form this question. The “question element” is formed according to the following rule:
The Y/N Question Rule: To form a yes/no question in English, transfer the first auxiliary verb that appears before the main verb in the positive sentence to the position before the subject. If there is no auxiliary verb, as in the Present Simple and Past Simple, then you add one (in both these cases, the auxiliary verb do).
- • When an auxiliary verb (including modals) is used, the main verb is not inflected (no s or ed ending), meaning that either the base form or past participle is used.
- • The verb to be uses a different yes/no question pattern.
Review the following table for examples of yes/no questions in English.
Tense Question Element Examples
Present Simple Do
Does Do I play?
Does she play?
Past Simple Did Did I play?
Present Progressive Am
Are Am I playing?
Is he playing?
Are we playing?
Past Progressive Was
Were Was I playing?
Were they playing?
Present Perfect Have
Has Have you played?
Has she played?
Has+Subject+been Have you been playing?
Has she been playing?
Past Perfect Had Had they played?
Progressive Had+Subject+been Had she been playing?
Future Simple Will Will I play?
Future Perfect Will+Subject+have Will he have played?
Conditional Would Would she play?
Conditional perfect Would+Subject+have Would she have played?
Should Can I play?
Should I play?