Negative Wh Questions and Questions in 12 tenses

Examples of Negative Wh Questions

In everyday English conversation, the use of contractions with negative Wh-questions is common. Wh-questions are often used with auxiliary or helping verbs in negative contractions to obtain information. Let us look at a few examples of Wh-questions used in this way.

Remember: Auxiliary verbs are also called helping verbs because they help to form various tenses by showing the main verb’s tense, or to form a negative or a question as in the case of wh-questions. The principal or most common auxiliary verbs are have, be, and do. Others are will, would, shall, should, can, could, may, might, must, ought.

Negative auxiliary verb contractions are often used with the question word “why.” For example:

Why don’t you speak Japanese?

Why hasn’t your cousin called me yet?

Why won’t you come to my birthday party?

We can also form negative Wh-questions with isn’t, aren’t, wasn’t, or weren’t.

Why isn’t she on time?

What aren’t they doing?

Who wasn’t at the party?

What weren’t they saying about last night?

Questions in 12 main English tenses

Let’s look at how questions are formulated in the twelve main English grammatical tenses.

Present Simple

The present simple tense is used to talk about things that are always true, or things that generally or frequently happen.

Do you like English?

Does your sister live in Boston?

Can his parents speak English?

Present Continuous

This is also called “present progressive.” When you use this tense, you want to indicate that something is happening right now, so use some form of the verb “to be” and a verb that ends with “-ing.”

Are you watching the news right now?

Is your teacher wearing a tie?

Are your parents planning a vacation?

Present perfect

The present perfect tense is used to talk about things that started in the past, but are still true or relevant now

Have you seen my car keys?

Has your dad watched the new “Star Wars” movie yet?

Have we reached our sales goals for this year?

Present Perfect Continuous

Perfect tenses can also be made continuous. You can do that if you want to talk about something that started in the past, but you want to emphasize that it’s still actively happening now.

Have you been studying at this university for a long time?

Has your dog been feeling sick the whole day?

Have your parents been living here since they were children?

Past Simple

Use the past simple tense when you want to talk about actions that were completed in the past. To do that, put the auxiliary in the past form (usually “did”).

Did you say my name?

Did the boss leave the meeting?

Did your parents drink all the wine?

Past continuous

Use the past continuous when you want to talk about completed past actions that continued for a period of time. To do this, use a past form of the verb “to be” for the auxiliary and the “-ing” form for the main verb.

Were you talking to me?

Was Theresa working yesterday at 4:00 p.m.?

Was I wearing this shirt the last time you saw me?

Past Perfect

Had you been to Canada before you moved there?

Had your mother played any other sports before she joined the softball team?

Had Harry Potter used any magic before he went to Hogwarts?

Past perfect Continuous

This is similar to the past perfect tense, but it indicates that the first action continued for a period of time. It uses the auxiliary “had,” and the main verb = “been” + the “-ing” verb.

Had you been studying English before you moved to Seattle?

Had the dog been acting strange before you took him to the vet?

Had they been waiting for long before you arrived?

Future Simple

The most common type of future yes/no questions are ones that use the future simple tense.

You can use the future simple tense to ask about short actions in the future. These questions are actually very easy to make. Start the sentence with “will” as the auxiliary and use a simple (infinitive) verb for the main verb.

Will you call me tomorrow?

Will the city government build a new parking lot next year?

Will that dog try to bite me?

Future Continuous

You can use this to talk about things that will happen for a period of time in the future. Start with “will” as the auxiliary verb and use “be” plus the “-ing” form of a verb.

Will you be waiting inside or at the ticket booth?

Will they be arriving soon?

Will she be singing when we get there?

Future Perfect

These final two tenses are much less common. They’re also more complicated because you generally have to include more context information when you use them.

Will you have lived here long enough to vote in the next election?

Will you have finished the marathon by this time tomorrow?

Future Perfect Continuous

When the school year ends, will you have been teaching there for 15 years?

Will you have been running in the marathon for six hours by this time tomorrow?

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