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Transcript of Yes/No Questions
-Inversion is rare among the languages of the world (very few languages besides English use inversion).
-The do operator is not a morpheme with many equivalents in other languages.
-Not all yes/no questions are inverted so you may be easily confused by the different forms.
Stages of Learning Yes/No Questions
1. Rising Intonation- You go?
2. Tag questions-George come school, no?
3. Modal inversion-Can I play?
4. Be inversion- Are you play?
5. Do support- Do you like ice cream?
Meaning and Form
A Guide to Yes/No Questions
WHAT are yes/no questions?
-Usually defined as a question for which the answer is yes/no
-(Most) invert the subject and the verb (operator)
WHY are they important?
-They are used frequently in all types of settings (professional, social, educational)
A Quick Overview of Yes/No Questions:
What stage are you?
Subject – operator inversion:
With an auxiliary verb Will they be in Reno on Friday?
Two auxiliary verbs Will they be gambling in Reno on Friday?
(only the first verb is inverted)
With the Be Copula
Pamela was a graduate student.
Was Pamela a graduate student?
Wasn’t Pamela a graduate student?
With other verbs
Arlene plays the organ on Sunday.
(Incorrect form) Plays Arlene the organ on Sunday?
(Correct form – need the verb do) Does Arlene play the organ on Sunday?
See next slide
Yes/No questions are usually neutral with regard to the speakers’
expectations; however a negative Yes/No question signals that the speaker has an expected response to the question.
Example: Aren’t we going to the movies? (I thought we had agreed to go to the movies.)
These type of questions present semantic problems for our ELL students – they tend to answer the questions literally, whereas in English we react to such questions as if they were an affirmative question with a presuppositional difference.
Example: Don’t you have apples? Yes (we do) or No (we don’t)
A proposition may thought to be true in general, but one of the components – subject, verb, object, or adverbial – may still be in doubt, for this reason the Yes/No questions can be more focused in their query.
Example: Did Megan play a practical joke on Pat? (or did someone else?)
The speaker is expecting confirmation of a positive or negative presupposition. The form is a sentence and is not inverted. This form may also be used to check for comprehension.
Examples: You had a good time? You understand?
Some vs. Any:
Some – weekly stress is used when you are expecting a positive response, whereas Any is used when the question is open or neutral or a negative question.
Examples: Do you have any paper I can borrow? Don’t you have any paper I can borrow? Would you like some cake?
You can use Audacity or similar software to view the difference in intonation.
Click here to download software:
Statement: I'm going to class.
Yes/No Question: Are you going?
Get with a partner and practice asking yes/no questions below.
Record their answers.
*Don't forget to use rising intonation!
Write five more yes/no questions and practice them with a new partner.