Forming Spanish Yes and No Questions by Using Intonation, Tags, and Inversion
You can easily form Spanish questions by changing your voice intonation, adding a tag phrase to a sentence, or inverting the order of the subject and verb. Here’s how.
Intonation is by far the easiest way to ask a question in Spanish. If you’re speaking, all you need to do is raise your voice at the end of what was a statement and add an imaginary question mark at the end of your thought. When writing, you just write down your thought and put question marks before and after it: ¿Ud. quiere tomar algo? (Do you want to drink something?) It’s that simple.
The tags ¿No es verdad? and ¿Está bien?
The tags ¿No es verdad? and ¿Está bien? can have a variety of meanings:
Isn’t that so?
Isn’t (doesn’t) he/she?
Aren’t (don’t) they/we/you?
You generally place ¿No es verdad? or ¿Está bien? at the end of a statement — especially when yes is the expected answer:
Ud. quiere tomar algo. ¿No es verdad? (You want to drink something, don’t you?)
Vamos al cine. ¿Está bien? (We're going to the movies, aren't we?)
Inversion is the most complicated of these three methods. Very basically speaking, you switch the word order of the subject (whether it’s a noun or pronoun) and its accompanying verb form. Keep these things in mind:
With inversion, pronouns tied to the conjugated verb appear after it.
The question ¿Ud. tiene sed? (Are you thirsty?) becomes ¿Tiene Ud. sed? (Are you thirsty?). If you inverted the example ¿Ella va a tomar té? (Is she going to drink tea?), your new question would be ¿Va ella a tomar té? (Is she going to drink tea?).
If the subject is followed by two consecutive verbs, put it after the phrase containing the second verb.
For example, to invert ¿Uds. quieren comer? (Do you want to eat?), simply move the subject (Uds.) to the space after the second consecutive verb: ¿Quieren comer Uds.? (Do you want to eat?). But remember to keep the meaning of the phrase intact.
Also note that in most instances, the subject pronoun is omitted in Spanish when the subject is obvious: ¿Quieres comer algo ahora? (Do you want to eat something now?) doesn’t need its pronoun tú because the verb tense indicates that tú is the subject.
To ask a negative inverted question, put no before the inverted verb and noun or pronoun.
So if you’re starting with the question ¿Toma frutas tu amigo? (Does your friend eat fruit), just plunk a no in front of the verb to get ¿No toma frutas tu amigo? (Doesn’t your friend eat fruit?). For verbs preceded by a direct or indirect object pronoun or for reflexive verbs, the pronoun goes before the conjugated verb:
¿No las toma tu amigo? (Doesn’t your friend eat them?)
¿No se desayuna temprano Alberto? (Doesn’t Albert eat breakfast [desayunarse] early?)