Grammar. 22.11.2012
Grammar Teacher

Английская грамматика: Subject / Object Questions

Автор: Grammar Teacher

Hi, guys =) I’m back. Today we’re going to discuss questions.

We all have questions in our life, starting from Shakespeare and his “to be or not to be?”, and ending with the every-day “Why am I doing this?” Tony Robbins, self-help author and guide, said: “Successful people ask better questions, and as a result they get better answers.”
So let’s learn how to ask the best of questions and become extremely successful.

Walt Disney is very successful, right?
What did Walt Disney do to become successful?
The answer to this question is: Walt Disney founded Walt Disney Productions, which later became one of the best-known motion picture producers in the world.

So the answer to “What did he make?” is “a new company”.
Is the company the object or the subject in the sentence “Walt Disney founded a new company” ?
It is the object, so the question “What did he make?”  is called an object question because its answer is the object.

Object questions are the questions you have always asked, the questions you know very well.
The form usually is:

Wh- + auxiliary verb + subject + Verb (in correct form) …?

We use auxiliary (helping) verbs in object questions.
Object questions use interrogative word order, so the subject and the auxiliary verb switch places.
Please answer these questions:

  • What are you doing right now?
  • What did you have for breakfast today?
  • When do you usually wake up?
  • Why are you reading this? =)

These are all object questions, because the answer is the object of the sentence.

Subject / Object Questions

Now let’s look at this example:


What happened?
How can we answer this?
Changes happened.
Are changes the subject or object in the sentence “Changes happened”?
Yep, the subject. They actually happened, they did the action, they’re not details.

So this question “What happened?” is called a subject question, because the answer is the subject.
These questions don’t use interrogative word order, they use affirmative word order. In order to form them, we take a normal sentence and change the subject to Who or What.

For example:
Freddy called this evening. ----> Who called this evening?
The cat jumped on my new dress! ----> What jumped on your new dress? OR What happened to your new dress?

We form subject questions like this:

Wh- + verb + …?

As you see, we don’t use auxiliary verbs in subject questions.
Now tell me this:

  • Who called you yesterday?
  • What happened to your favorite character in a book?
  • Who are you going to meet tomorrow?

Here is all the information in one table:

Object questions Subject questions
- Normal usual questions
- The answer to this question is the object
- Use auxiliary (helping) verbs
- Question word order 
- The answer to this question is the subject
- No auxiliary verbs
- Subject + verb + object
- Affirmative word order, WH-word is the subject
Where are you going? – to the hospital
What are you going to wear? – a black dress 
Who told you? – My friend.
What happened?


You can check out the exercises over here:

  1. Is this question subject or object? -
  2. Fill in the gaps  multiple choice:
  3. Ask a question about the underlined word:

P.S. Check out the world’s best questionsover here

Мы рассмотрели правила и примеры формирования двух видов вопросов (Subject / Object) в английском языке. Чтобы узнать больше об английской грамматике, читайте другие публикации в разделе Grammar!

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