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Language Focus: Present Simple Questions

Learn about how to form and use present simple questions and see examples from a reading text about IP addresses.
3.8
Hi and welcome to this week’s language focus on asking questions in the present simple. Questions in the present simple were used in the reading passage about IP addresses. Here are some examples from the passage. Are IP address is important? Do you send people letters? What does an IP address look like? As you can see, are is used in the first question. In the second question, the writer used do. And in the last question, a question word, what, has been used with does. Do you know how to ask questions in the present simple in English? That’s what you will look at in this step.

Introduction

In the previous step you read a text. The text had these four questions:

  • Are IP addresses important?
  • Do you send people letters?
  • How does information on the internet arrive at the correct device?
  • How does the information know where to go?
  • What does an IP address look like?

These questions are all in the present simple tense.

Questions with the verb to be

Let’s look at the first question, Are IP addresses important?

This question uses the verb to be. Let’s quickly revise this verb:

Present simple  
I am
You are
He/she/it is
We are
You are
They are

This question has a subject (noun), a verb and an adjective.

  • Subject: IP addresses
  • Verb: are
  • Adjective: important

Compare the question with the statement. What is the difference?

Question Statement
Are IP addresses important? IP addresses are important.

The order of the subject (IP addresses) and the verb (are) changes. The question has verb + subject. The statement has subject + verb. You can see this in the table below.

Question

Verb Subject Adjective
Are IP addresses important?

Statement

Subject Verb Adjective
IP addresses are important

Task 1

The verb to be needs to change depending on the subject. Which form of the verb to be is missing here? (The subject is in bold.)

  • _____ the internet fast at your house?
  • _____ I connected?
  • _____ you on YouTube?

You can download the answers here: Task 1 ANSWERS

Questions with other verbs

Questions with other verbs (not the verb to be) look different. For example: Do you send letters?

Task 2

Have a look at this question and statement:

Question Statement
Do you send letters? You send letters.

What is the main verb? What verb has been added to make a question?

You can download the answers here: Task 2 ANSWERS

The verb ‘do’: Form

The main verb is in the infinitive form, so it does not change depending on the subject. The verb do needs to change depending on the subject. Which subject is different?

Present simple  
I do
You do
He/she/it does
We do
You do
They do

For he/she/it, you need to use does. For example: Does he send letters?

Form: Do/Does + subject + main verb

Wh- questions

Finally, you can add what, where, who, why and how to ask for particular information.

Compare these two questions and answers. What is the difference between the answers?

Question 1 Answer 1
Do you send letters? Yes.
Question 2 Answer 2
How do you send letters? I write them by hand, add a stamp, and put them in the letterbox close to my house.
  1. The first question has only yes or no as an answer. These are sometimes called ‘yes/no questions’.
  2. But questions with what, where, who, why and how have information in the answer. These are sometimes called ‘information questions’.

The choice of question word (who, where, when, how, what, why) depends on what you want to find out. Have a look at these examples.

  • How does information on the internet arrive at the correct device?
  • How does the information know where to go?
  • What does an IP address look like?

Which questions are asking about a process? Which one is asking for a description?

The how questions are asking about a process. The what question is asking for a description (of an IP address).

Task 3

Can you match these other question words with their function?

Question word Function
Where… ? A reason
When… ? A time
Who… ? A place
Why… ? A person

You can download the answers here: Task 3 ANSWERS

Discussion

What do you find difficult about asking questions in the present simple in English?

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