Asking (and answering) questions is one of the most basic tasks in all languages. Questions can be used to start a conversation, learn new information and /or inquire about something. It is also one of the most difficult tasks for learners of English since English has its certain rules on question formation. In some cases, it inverts the subject and auxiliary verb in the interrogative form, but in others it requires a specific word order, and this is where most problems begin.
There are a few different question types in English: subject question, object question, indirect question and question tags.
The examples of each type are the following:
a) Subject question: Who wrote ‘Hamlet’?
b) Object question: What play did Shakespeare write?
c) Indirect question: Could you tell me what play Shakespeare wrote?
d) Question tags: Shakespeare wrote ‘Hamlet’, didn’t he?
The most usual problem occurs with subject and object questions where an auxiliary verb plays an important role- in object questions it is obligatory (e.g. What play did he write?), while in subject questions it is omitted (e.g. Who wrote ‘Hamlet’?, not Who did write ‘Hamlet’?).
The second most frequent mistake English learners make is in indirect questions, where the word order is extremely important:
e.g. ‘Could you tell me where the nearest bus stop is? And not ‘Could you tell me where is the nearest bus stop?.