Questions: Be…? Do…? Have…?

Asking questions in English can be tricky, eh!

Sometimes we have to invert the subject and the verb to make a question.

Example:

You are my friend

Are you my friend?

Sometimes we have to use an auxiliary verb to make a question.

Example:

You like coffee.

Do you like coffee?

Is there an easy way to remember how to use auxiliary verbs correctly?

I’ve found that using charts is a great way to visualize the differences. Charts also help you remember which auxiliary to use when asking questions in English.

Verb be

Verb be is a unique verb that can change its position to change a sentence into a question.

A. Simple present

SubjectAffirmative
S V O
Question
S <-> V
(V S O)
II am late.Am I late?
YouYou are Canadian.Are you Canadian?
HeHe is your father.Is he your father?
SheShe is our teacher.Is she our teacher?
ItIt is okay to make mistakes.Is it okay to make mistakes?
WeWe are tired.Are we tired?
TheyThey are Brazilian.Are they Brazilian?

B. Simple past

SubjectAffirmative
S V O
Question
S <-> V
(V S O)
II was late.Was I late?
YouYou were sick yesterday.Were you sick yesterday?
HeHe was my best friend.Was he my best friend?
SheShe was our teacher.Was she our teacher?
ItIt was okay to make mistakes.Was it okay to make mistakes?
WeWe were tired last night.Were we tired last night?
TheyThey were very hungry.Were they very hungry?

AUXILIARIES

An auxiliary verb is not an action verb, rather it helps the action verb to convey its meaning. Therefore, it is also known as helping verb. Auxiliary verbs are used with main verbs to help express the tense.

Verb be is an auxiliary in the continuous tenses

C. Present continuous

(Aux: am/is/are)

SubjectAffirmative
Subject + Aux + verbing
Question
Aux + Subject + verbing
II am studying English.Am I studying English?
YouYou are living in Canada.Are you living in Canada?
HeHe is traveling to France.Is he traveling to France?
SheShe is chatting with her friends.Is she chatting with her friends?
ItIt is raining.Is it raining?
WeWe are having a good time.Are we having a good time?
TheyThey are doing a great job.Are they doing a great job?

D. Past continuous

(Aux: was/ were)

SubjectAffirmative
Subject + Aux + verbing
Question
Aux + Subject + verbing
II was studying English this morning.Was I studying English this morning?
YouYou were living in Canada last year.Were you living in Canada last year?
HeHe was traveling to yesterday.Was he traveling to France yesterday?
SheShe was chatting with her friends.Was she chatting with her friends?
ItIt was raining two hours ago.Was it raining two hours ago?
WeWe were having a good time.Were we having a good time?
TheyThey were doing a great job.Were they doing a great job?

Do is an auxiliary verb (Aux) that we use when we want to ask questions in simple present.

E. Simple present

SubjectAffirmative
S V O
Question
Aux + Subject + verb
II like studying English.Do I like studying English?
YouYou live in Canada. Do you live in Canada?
HeHe travels to France once a year. Does he travel to France once a year?
SheShe chats with Mike every day. Does she chat with Mike every day?
ItIt (The dog) plays with the children. Does it (the dog) play with the children?
WeWe always have a good time in class. Do we always have a good time in class?
TheyThey always do a great job. Do they always do a great job?

Did is an auxiliary verb (Aux) that we use when we want to ask questions in simple past.

E. Simple past

SubjectAffirmative
S V O
Question
Aux + Subject + verb
II liked studying English.Did I like studying English?
YouYou lived in Canada. Did you live in Canada?
HeHe traveled to France last year.Did he travel to France last year?
SheShe chatted with Mike yesterday. Did she chat with Mike yesterday?
ItIt (The dog) played with the children yesterday.Did it (the dog) play with the children yesterday?
WeWe had a good time in class yesterday.Did we have a good time in class yesterday?
TheyThey did a great job. Did they do a great job?

Have is an auxiliary verb (Aux) that we use when we want to ask questions in present perfect and present perfect continuous.

F. Present Perfect

(Aux: have/has)

SubjectAffirmative
S + Aux + past participle
Question
Aux + Subject + verb
II have studied English for 2 years.Have I studied English for 2 years?
YouYou have lived in Canada since 2010. Have you lived in Canada since 2010?
HeHe has traveled to France twice.Has he traveled to France twice?
SheShe has done her homework. Has she done her homework?
ItIt (The dog) has run away.Has it (the dog) run away?
WeWe have finished the course.Have we we finished the course?
TheyThey have found a good job. Have they found a good job?

G. Present Perfect Continuous

(Aux: have been/has been)

SubjectAffirmative
S + Aux + verbing
Question
Aux + Subject + verb
II have been studying English for 2 years.Have I been studying English for 2 years?
YouYou have been living in Canada since 2010. Have you been living in Canada since 2010?
HeHe has been working in France for 2 years .Has he been working in France for 2 years?
SheShe has been doing her homework since 5 o’ clock. Has she been doing her homework since 5 o’clock?
ItIt (The dog) has been sleeping all day.Has it (the dog) been sleeping all day?
WeWe have been taking this course since April.Have we been taking this course since April?
TheyThey have been looking for a job since April. Have they been looking for a good job since April?

Related:

Common mistakes with be do & have

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