Yes/No Questions: What Are Closed Questions? Definition and Examples

By Carly Forsaith, updated on March 22, 2023

Have you ever wondered what a closed question is? This article will teach you everything you need to know to ask the right questions in the right contexts.

In short:

  • A closed question is a question that only allows for a limited range of responses. Often, that’s ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but there are others, too.

What Are Closed Questions?

Closed questions, also known as close-ended questions, only allow for a limited range of answers. They’re a good way to make small talk or to conduct surveys, depending on the type of answer you’re looking for.

Let’s learn a little more about closed questions.

Yes/No Questions

A common kind of closed question is the kind of question that the interlocutor can only answer with ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

For example:

Do you go to this highschool?

The only possible answer to this question is ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Of course, the person answering can go on to expand on their answer. They might choose to tell you that yes, they do go here, but they’re new, or they might tell you where they do go if they don’t go here.

When forming a yes/no question, the verb you use must be a form of the verb ‘be,’ ‘do,’ or ‘have,’ or a modal verb. Without it, it’s impossible to ask a yes/no question.

Look at the following sentences by way of illustration.

Are you hungry?

Do you have a pen?

Have we arrived?

You can turn any question into a yes/no question by adding a negative interrogative question such as “doesn’t it?”, “isn’t he?” or “can’t you?”.

For instance:

It’s hot here, isn’t it?

Other Types of Closed Questions

There’s another kind of closed question, and they’re called “Wh– questions.” As you might have guessed, wh-questions are when you ask a question using an interrogative word beginning with -wh.

Though these questions don’t lead to ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers, they do have a limited range of responses.

Take the following question, for instance:

Where were you born?

There’s only one possible answer to this question. Here’s another:

What’s your favorite color?

Again, only one possible answer.

Closed Questions vs Open Questions

Now you know what closed questions are, but do you know what open questions are? It’s quite simple, really: open questions are questions that don’t limit the range of responses. The answer could include unlimited options.

So which should you use: closed or open questions? This completely depends on your goal.

If you’re running a survey to learn how users are finding your software, and there are specific areas you want to ask about, you might want to use yes/no questions.

But in the same survey, you might want to ask what improvements can be made to the product. For this, an open-ended question might be best.

If you’re trying to get to know someone and are making small talk - say, on a first date, for example - you might want to stick with open questions as they keep the conversation flowing.

Examples of Closed Questions

Now we’ve covered the basics of what closed questions are, let’s look at some examples. Below, I’ll write a mixture of “Yes/no” and “Wh- questions.”

When are you going on vacation?

Did you enjoy the show?

Do you like caramel flavor?

Were they happy?

What’s for dinner?

Concluding Thoughts

Well, that concludes this article on yes/no and other closed questions. We’ve pretty much covered the basics there, so you should feel confident to go out and use closed questions properly.

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned. Closed questions:

  • Are ‘yes/no’ questions or ‘wh-’ questions?
  • Require limited responses.
  • Contrast with open questions, which leave the freedom for an unlimited range of responses.

If you found this article helpful and would like to improve your grammar further, check out our Grammar Rules blog.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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