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What, where, when...?

Questions, questions, questions. Do you know how to form them properly in English? As per usual, English likes to complicate things and add extra words (where honestly, Cambridge, are they really necessary?!), hence making it more difficult for people to properly form and respond to questions. So hopefully this guide will help you to always get them right!

 

The question words

In English, we call them the 5 W's (really they should be called the 5 W's and the H, but anyways...).

What - cosa

What is your name?

​When - quando

When did you finish work?

Where - dove

Where are you from?

Who - qui

Who is your best friend?

Why - perché

Why do you like English?

Which - quale

Which book is yours? The red or blue one?

How - come

How will you celebrate your birthday?

As you can see, the question word always comes at the beginning of the phrase, followed by the auxiliary verb (for example, do/did), the subject and the main verb of the phrase. The following chart will help you form questions properly in all simple tenses, so keep reading!

 

Forming questions


Present simple Asking about habits, routines and schedules

Question word + do/does + subject + verb

​What do you do on the weekends?

Question word + to be + subject

When is the meeting?

Question word + to be + subject + adjective

Why are you stressed?

Past simple Asking about past completed actions

Question word + did + subject + verb

​What did you do last weekend?

Question word + was/were + subject

When was the meeting?

Question word + was/were + subject + adjective

Why were you so tired yesterday?

Future simple Asking about future actions and schedules

Question word + will + subject + verb

​​What time will your parents arrive?

Question word + to be + subject + going to + verb

​​Where are you going to go on holiday?

The most important thing to remember is that you absolutely must add do, did or the verb to be to your questions in English. If you translate directly from Italian, for example by saying, "when the meeting starts?", instead of "when does the meeting start?", people will of course understand you, but wouldn't you rather speak properly?

 

Glossary

  • As per usual: a slightly sarcastic way to say that something is always the same



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