WH questions - also known as open questions - are one of two types of questions. Would you like to know what they look like and how to formulate them? If so, read on.
Questions are one of five types of sentences in English. And there are two types of questions - open and closed.
Open questions are sometimes also called WH questions because they mostly begin with WH words:
And there’s a ‘how’ - a ‘w’ word, but a question word nonetheless.
Open questions allow the person responding to say whatever they want. This differs from closed questions, where the respondent can only answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or choose from a range of provided options (multiple-choice questionnaires, for instance).
Here’s an example of an open question:
Where would you like to go for lunch?
And here’s an example of a closed question:
Would you like to have lunch?
The second question can only be answered by ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but the first question has many possible responses, which is what makes it an open question.
If you want to ask open questions, you’ll need to know how to formulate them. That’s what we’ll look into now. There are two ways to make an open question, and it’ll depend on whether it contains an auxiliary verb or not.
Open questions with auxiliary verbs look a little something like this:
Where do you usually eat lunch?
‘Do’ is the auxiliary verb, and ‘eat’ is the main verb. From the sentence above, you can see that the structure for a WH question with an auxiliary verb is:
WH Word + Auxiliary Verb + Subject + Main Verb
And then add in other words relevant to the sentence where it’s appropriate.
Where should we go for lunch?
‘Should’ is the auxiliary verb, and ‘go’ is the main verb.
Questions without an auxiliary verb have a slightly different layout. The general formula goes like this:
WH Word + Verb
And add in any other relevant words after that. Here’s an example of what that might look like:
Who sent me these flowers?
So now we understand the basic structure for open questions, let’s take a look at some examples. I’ll show examples of open questions with and without auxiliary verbs, with and without modal verbs, and using all the different ‘WH words.’
What cured your hiccups in the end?
Who wants to hear a funny story?
When do you finish high school?
Whom are you here with?
Whose pear is this?
Why do you check on me every five minutes?
How do you heal so fast? What’s your secret?
That concludes this article on open or WH questions. I hope you found it helpful.
Here’s what we learned:
If you found this article helpful, head on over to our Grammar Rules blog, where you’ll find lots more like this.
It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.