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 these questions?”

  1. Where do you live?
  2. What do you have for breakfast?
  3. Why are you learning English?
  4. How do you get to school?
  5. How are you?

To help learners:

  • get learners to match the question words (Where, How etc) with the uses: where = place; when = time; why = reason; how = the way things are / the way people feel.
  • ask learners to match the questions with the following answers: 1. I’m fine. 2. Because it is useful. 3. In Dakar. 4. I have fruit. and 5. By bus.
  • focus on the word order of questions: question word + auxiliary verb + subject + main 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:

The use of questions words is 

  • where = place
  • when = time
  • what = things / actions
  • why = reason
  • how = the way things are / the way people feel

The word order in questions is:

question word + auxiliary verb + subject + main verb.

When we ask a question using a question word, the answer is not Yes / No, but information must be given.

Stage 3: Use the grammar

a. What’s the question word?

Write the following sentences on the board and say: “Complete the questions with the correct question word.”

a.________ are my shoes?

b.________ was your lesson?

c._______ does school start?

d._______ were you late?

b. Word order.

Write up the following jumbled questions on the board and say: “Put the words in the correct order to make questions.” / are / how / feeling / ?

b.go / you / where / to school / do / ?

c.are / why / crying / you / ?

d.get up / do / when / you / ?

c. Dialogue

Write up the following question on the board:

What are you doing?

Put learners in pairs and say: “Act out a short dialogue – 3 turns each – starting with this question by student A. Student A should try to ask a question each time it’s their turn.”

Monitor and help when necessary.


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.

jumbled: Where a sequence is mixed in a random order and does not have a regular pattern.

main verb: the important verb in the sentence, the one that typically shows the action or state of being of the subject

monitor: The way a teacher watches to see how well an individual, group or class is doing a particular task. 

question word: a function word used to ask a question, such as what, which, when, where, who, whom, whose, why, whether and how.

subject: The part of the sentence which is ‘doing’ the verb. e.g. in the sentence 'The girl kicked the ball', 'the girl' is the subject.

See also