Yes/No Questions


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).

Pay attention:

  • • 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?        
Present Perfect
Progressive     Have+Subject+been
Has+Subject+been    Have you been playing?
Has she been playing?       
Past Perfect     Had     Had they played?        
Past Perfect
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?        
Modals     Can
Should     Can I play?
Should I play?