Interrogative language is used to ask questions. And, the most common interrogative words, in alphabetical order, are:
These words are sometimes called “wh-words” because most of them begin with wh. “Who,” a wh-word is our interrogative word of the day.
“Who,” pronounced /ho͞o/, is a Pronoun that means what or which person or people, among other things.
For example, you may go to a Halloween party and hear a native English speaker ask, “Who is behind the mask?” This may even be something you’ve wondered about Batman or the anime character Tuxedo Mask. By asking this, the speaker wants to know who is wearing the mask. Sometimes costumes conceal identity.
Some Question Tags use the Auxiliary Verb, but these little action words are nothing to fear. An Auxiliary Verb simply demonstrates tense. For example, can versus could. At this point, we know when to deploy Auxiliary Verbs.
Note: These sentences elicit somewhat complex answers, not merely “yes” or “no” like our earlier lesson, Positive/Negative Question Tags.
Question tags, with or without Auxiliary Verbs are contextually interesting. They transform declarative and imperative statements into interrogative sentences. furthermore, they are often used to communicate irony, insults, and alternate usages of a word. Here’s an example that both use an Auxiliary Verb and express irony.
Speaker 1: “In the ‘90s, I was big in New Orleans.”
Speaker 2: “You were big, weren’t you? The fattest Blues singer in the city!”
Much of this will be somewhat familiar to speakers of Asiatic languages. For example, Hindi, Japanese, and Arabic use tags at the end of sentences to alter their meaning.
Simply, in English, Question Tags are tacked onto the end of declarative (stating) or imperative (commanding) sentences to make them interrogative, these small phrases are used to transform a statement into questions.
Interestingly, Question Tags come across as an afterthought, but these phrases are intentionally placed. And, most often, Positive/Negative Question Tags are deployed by native English speakers when the listener is expected to agree.
For example, you may encounter an English speaker saying “It’s hot today, isn’t it?” It would be atypical to hear this on a day below 26℃ Celsius. The listener would reply with a simple, but heartfelt, “Yes, it is!”
There are many ways to ask a question. Often, interrogative sentences begin with “do,” “how many,” or “when.” But, “is there” and “are there” are commonplace as well.
Simply, sentences containing “is there” and “are there” are used to inquire if something exists. For example, you may hear a native English speaker saying “Is there any rice left?” By saying this, the speaker is asking the listener if there is rice remaining in the bowl.
As usual, “are” is used for plural Nouns, typically Nouns that end with an s. Here’s an example, “Are there any chopsticks in the dish dryer?” By saying this, the speaker is asking the listener if there are clean chopsticks on the drying rack.