Types of Questions in English with Definition and Examples

Types of Questions in English with Definition and Examples

Hi there! If you can remember very well, some posts on Akademia have addressed various ‘types of…’ posts. We have looked at types of clauses, types of sentences, phobia types, types of verbs, types of nouns, morpheme types, types of adverbs, etc. But in this post, we want to examine yet another ‘types of post’ and I call it Types of Questions in English with Definition and Examples. Did I hear you say ‘interesting’? Then I say ‘Touche’! So let’s get to it.

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Types of Questions in English with Definition and Examples

Users of English all over the world use the language to elicit information and so they ask questions. You know it is always good to ask questions as you are bound to get answers most of the times, though. So let us see the several Types of Questions in English with Definition and Examples. But before we do that, let us answer this interesting question…

What is a Question?

Have you ever thought of this question? It is obvious that you make use of the word ‘question’ almost on a daily basis; but you have not really asked the question, what is a question? Okay, let us answer the question. A question is a type of clause or sentence which has an information gap that needs to be filled. For instance, where did you do the festival? The information gap here is the place where the festival held. So, in essence, a question seeks or requests information from another individual.

Types of Questions in English

All the types of questions in English come under the interrogative umbrella meant to elicit information. See Types of Sentences According to Function. Let us see some of these questions…

Polar Question

This question is so called because it deals with polarity. Polarity simply has to do with the opposition between positive and negative. A polar question is a type of question that elicits a two-way answer – positive or negative. It either gives the answer ‘yes; or ‘no’; hence the name, ‘yes/no question’.

A polar question contrasts with content questions which contain an interrogative or question word like ‘what’ or ‘when’, in which some more detailed answers are given. We sometimes call content questions wh-questions. In asking the polar question, one makes use of the modal auxiliary or the non-modal auxiliary verbs inverted to come before the subject of the sentence. So we have examples like:

  • Are those girls reading their books?
  • Is the programme ending today?
  • Was the course difficult?
  • Were they around this morning?
  • Will you come with me?

Wh Question

This type of question gets its name from the fact that it usually begins with a ‘wh’ element which we refer to as the ‘Q-word’ that is, the ‘question word’. Examples of the type of question include:

  • What did you see in the house?
  • How were you able to get the visa?
  • Where is the money you withdrew from the bank?

Another name for wh-questions in English is content questions. I have dedicated a special post to this type of question. You need to read it. I tilted it Wh Questions with Definition, Types and Examples. It is a must read; do check it out.




Rhetorical Question

A rhetorical question is a type of question that one asks without expecting a particular answer; in other words, it is asked for effect. The rhetorical question does not have the function of seeking an answer to the question it poses. Literally speaking, a rhetorical question can have an obvious answer, but the questioner has not asked it to get the obvious answer, but to make a point or for the purpose of persuasion just for literary effect. Let us see some examples…

Examples of Rhetorical Questions

Rhetorical Questions Asked to Make a Point

  1. Is water wet?
  2. Do you want to be a slave to your mates?
  3. Do birds fly and do fishes swim?
  4. Is six and half a dozen the same?
  5. Is fire hot?
  6. Are you kidding me?
  7. Do you think the Pope is Catholic?
  8. Can’ you say that again?
  9. Don’t you want to fulfil purpose?
  10. Are we going to continue like this?
  11. Is this the way we will be indifferent I this matter?
  12. Do pigs grunt?
  13. Are ants attracted to sugar?
  14. Shouldn’t you concentrate of making a living out of your life?
  15. Shall we continue in sin and say grace should abound?
  16. Are you alright?
  17. “Did you hear me?
  18. Who knows what she can do?
  19. If you poison us, do we not die? (The Merchant of Venice)
  20. Why not?
  21. Are you okay?
  22. If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind? (Ode to the West Wind)
  23. Will no one tell me what she sings? (The Solitary Reaper)
  24. If you prick us, do we not bleed? (The Merchant of Venice)
  25. If you tickle us, do we not laugh? (The Merchant of Venice)

 Rhetorical Questions without Answers

  1. How long will corruption hold sway in this nation?
  2. Can I ever love you less?
  3. How am I supposed to know?
  4. What do we want in life?
  5. I am not a mind reader, am I?
  6. For how long will I put up with your incompetence?
  7. Why me O Lord?
  8. But in it all who really cares?
  9. Why worry when you can pray?
  10. Who cares whose ox is gored?
  11. What’s the problem with being sincere?
  12. What do we even labour for?
  13. Why do you bother yourself on what you have no power over?
  14. What is even wrong with the world?
  15. Can’t I sleep again in peace in my own house?
  16. What more can I say to thank you?
  17. What is man that you are mindful of him?
  18. Do you think I am a baby?
  19. Do you think I just came from nowhere?
  20. Was I born yesterday that you would talk to me like that?




Uses of Rhetorical Question

Rhetorical questions serve various purposes among which are:

  • Writers use it for rhetorical effects
  • We use it to make a point
  • It has its aesthetic beauty
  • We can use it in persuasion.
  • Writers use it to sustain readers’ interest.

Direct Question

A direct question is a type of question the ends with a question mark. It is so called because it is not a question that comes indirectly; it is clear that it is a question that cannot be mistaken for a statement or sentence when someone asks you because it comes directly as a question. An example of this can take any form of the questions we have discussed here.

Alternative Question

An alternative question is a type that provides choice or alternatives; it presents two or more possible answers presupposing that only one is true and that is why its name derives from it. In asking an alternative question, the speaker offers the hearer a closed choice between two or more alternative possibilities. The word ‘or’ signals the relation between the alternatives.

Let us see some examples of alterative question:

Examples of Alternative Question

  • Are you going out or staying in?
  • Will you take Coke or Fanta?
  • Shall we buy candies or buy ice cream?
  • Would they prefer going by bus or going by air?
  • Should we go to the cinemas or go back home?
  • Is the baby male or female?
  • Would you like rice, porridge, or yam?
  • Would you like orange, apple or cucumber?

There are also reported alternative questions. These are subordinate nominal clauses (or complement clauses) where we express the alternatives by ‘whether’ of ‘if’. Check out some examples:

  • They asked her whether/if the baby was male or female.
  • Anne wondered whether/if he was waving or drowning.

Tag Question

This is another type of question in English that is worth considering. It is a question that has a tag with it whenever anyone asks it.

Because of the loads of information on tag questions, I have also devoted a whole post titled, Tag Questions in English: Formation, Rules, Types and Examples. It is quite important that you take a look at it.




Exclamatory Question

An exclamatory question is a type of question that shows one’s emotional feelings. In a sense, it is similar to the rhetorical question because it really does not expect an answer as it is just an expression of the emotional state of the questioner. Looking at this question type technically, it is a kind of yes-no question that carries with it the force of an exclamation. In other words, it is a question that exclaims! It normally comes out with a falling tune or intonation. The punctuation mark that usually comes after and exclamatory question could either be a question mark or an exclamation mark. Let us see some sentences:

Examples of Exclamatory Questions

  • Aren’t these houses exquisite!
  • Isn’t the dress lovely!
  • What a cheat he was!
  • Why didn’t you call me all these while?
  • Wouldn’t it be nice if Nigeria became the envy of other nations?
  • Weren’t we all here when the enemy infiltrated our camps?
  • What other dungeon is so dark as one’s own heart!
  • What jailer so inexorable as one’s self!
  • How on earth did you break in here!

Declarative Question

This type of question is similar, in a way, to polar or yes/no question; but it has a declarative form and comes with a rising tune at the end. In other words, a declarative question comes in the form of a statement but it is a question and has the question mark at the end.

Examples of Declarative Questions

  • You are asking me to leave your office?
  • You did not consider calling me before leaving?
  • The accused has escaped from custody?
  • The principal called my name on the assembly?
  • She took my car away?
  • He actually said that?
  • You could not do anything to stop him?
  • Our candidate will be disqualified?
  • He did this to you?
  • It escaped from its cage?
  • It’s raining?
  • He’ll miss the party then?
  • France is a monarchy?
  • Johnson acted alone?
  • She lied to the commission of enquiry?

Summary

Questions are means of eliciting information but not all. This post has looked at the various types of questions in English. You can check out these related posts:

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