Author: British Council | Published on 1 July 2022


Stage 1: Present examples

Write these sentences on the board and underline as shown. Ask. “What do you notice about the underlined parts of the sentences?”

a. Are elephants big?                      Yes, they are.

b. Do elephants live in Africa?        Yes, they do.

c. Can elephants fly?                      No, they can’t.

d. Have you got an elephant?         No, I haven’t.

To help learners:

  • ask focussed questions (e.g. What happens to the word order in the questions? Are the answers long? If the answer is ‘yes’, what happens to the auxiliary or modal verb? If the answer is ‘no’ what happens to the auxiliary or modal verb?). Use L1 if necessary. 

Stage 2: Take feedback

Ask learners to share their feedback on what they noticed in the examples. Some key points you might want to share with them include:

  • When the questions have a short Yes / No answer they start with an auxiliary or modal verb.
  • If the answer is ‘Yes’, the auxiliary or modal verb in the answer is positive.
  • If the answer is ‘No’, the auxiliary or modal verb in the answer is negative.
  • In short answers we don’t use the subject of the question i.e. elephants (1 – 3), you (4). We replace it with a pronoun i.e. they (1 – 3) and I (4) 

Stage 3: Use the grammar

a. Match the questions and short answers.

Write up questions with short answers in two columns on the board, but mix the answers up. Learners have to match the questions to the short answers. e.g. 

A                                                                 B

Are crocodiles fish?                                   Yes, they are.

Do crocodiles live in water?                       No, they aren’t.

Can crocodiles swim?                               Yes, they do.

Do crocodiles eat vegetables?                  No, they can’t.

Are crocodiles dangerous?                       No, they don’t.

Can crocodiles speak?                             Yes, they can. 

b. Twenty questions

Start by demonstrating the game. Say: “I’m thinking of an animal. You have to ask me Yes / No questions and try to guess the animal. You have 20 questions.”

Get learners to put their hands up and ask you questions. Only allow 20 questions before they guess.

Put learners in groups and get them to play the game together. Circulate, monitor and help where necessary.

You can also play the game with other categories i.e. food, everyday objects, sports etc. 


auxiliary verb: Provides additional information (e.g. about voice and tense) about the main verb which follows. Do / be / have and modal verbs are the main auxiliary verbs.

modal verb: A modal verb is a type of verb that contextually indicates a modality such as a likelihood, ability, permission, request, capacity, suggestion, order, obligation, or advice.

subject: The part of the sentence which is ‘doing’ the verb. e.g. in the sentence 'The girl kicked the ball', 'the girl' is t

See also