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Polar question

From Teflpedia
(Redirected from Yes/no question)

A polar question, also known as a yes/no question, or an affirmative-negative question is a question to which the expected answer is affirmative (in English yes) or negative (no). In English, polar questions begin with an auxiliary verb and are usually, but not always, answered using the same auxiliary/modal verb.

Form[edit | edit source]

Generally, yes/no questions use the interrogative mood to mark being a question. That results in subject–auxiliary inversion, such as

Do you like chocolate?

They can be either affirmative or negative:

Don’t you like chocolate?

Declarative questions are also possible, especially in speech, where the only marking for being a question is the context and intonation:

You like chocolate?

It’s also possible to make tagged questions using question tags:

You like chocolate, do you?

Response[edit | edit source]

The short answer to the uses the same auxiliary verb as the question:

Do you like chocolate?
Yes, I do. / No, I don’t

The third possible answer, sometimes overlooked, is “I don’t know” or a hedging word such as maybe or perhaps.

Indirect speech[edit | edit source]

In indirect speech (reported speech), we can use the verb ask plus if or whether. For example:

  • A to B: “Do you like chocolate?”
  • B to C (reporting): “A asked me if I liked chocolate.” or “A asked me whether (or not) I liked chocolate.”

Backshifting may or may not occur: “A asked me if I like chocolate.”/“A asked me whether (or not) I like chocolate.”

Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

Polar questions typically have a rising intonation.