By Geraldine Woods

In many languages, you say the equivalent of “Ate the cookie?” to find out whether your friend gobbled up a treat. In English, you nearly always need a helping verb and a subject (the person or thing you’re talking about) to create a question: “Did you eat the cookie?” (The verbs to be and to have are the only exceptions.)

Notice that the combo form (did eat) is different from the straight past tense (ate). Other question-creators, italicized in these examples, change the tense: “Will you eat my cookie?” or “Do you eat cookies?” (This last one suggests an ongoing action.) In nearly all questions, the subject follows the first (or only) verb.

Practice questions

Rewrite the statement so that it becomes a question. Add words or rearrange the sentence as needed.

  1. They noticed seven credit cards, each with a different name.
  2. You want the reward for recovering stolen property.

Answers to practice questions

  1. Did they notice the seven credit cards, each with a different name? The helper did precedes the subject, they, in this question.
  2. Do you want the reward for recovering stolen property? In this question, you add do to the main verb, want, to land in question territory.