In all three parts of the speaking test, the examiner will prompt you to speak by asking you a variety of questions, so it's a good idea to check you understand and can respond to the main question forms in English. These are summarised below.
1. Questions with "do / does (did)" as auxiliary
"Do/ does (did)" plus an infinitive is used:
- In affirmative and negative questions in the present and past simple tense. The main verb is in the infinitive without "to". Many take a 'yes/no' answer.
- Q: Do you speak Cantonese? A: Yes, a little.
- Doesn't she live in Causeway bay? A: Yes she does.
- Did they all find jobs when they graduated? A: Most of them did.
"Do/ does (did)" is not used with the following:
- With the verb "to be" as auxiliary or with modal auxiliary verbs (will, would, shall, should, can, must, may, ought etc).
- Are there any honest politicians?
- Was he at home all night?
- Will you come to the cinema with me?
- Can you tell me where to find the CILL?
- Wouldn't you like to see my paintings?
- If the question word is the subject.
- Who loves you?
- What happened?
- Where have all the flowers gone?
- When did he?
- With the perfect or past perfect tenses, as they take "have/ has (had)" as auxiliary.
- Have you heard the news about the Olympics?
- How many times had he spoken to her?
- Had he spent all the money when he was arrested?
- With continuous tenses.
- Are you planning to go away this summer?
- Were they hoping to interview her?
- With passives.
- Are postgraduate qualifications required for the post?
- Has the final decision been made?
- With indirect questions. Other modal verbs are often used instead.
- Can you tell me the way to the Science Museum please?
- Would he consider working a 4 day week?
2. Yes / No questions
- These require short "yes or no" type answers. The question form inverts the main and auxiliary verbs. If there is no auxiliary, use "do" in the appropriate form.
- Can they start tomorrow?
- Did their insurance cover the loss?
- Should we report it to the Dean?
3. Information ("wh") questions
- These require a "wh" word (who, what, where, when, why, how) depending on the information sought. Like yes /no type questions, they invert the main and auxiliary verbs, and use "do /does (did)" if there is no other auxiliary. If the "wh" question word replaces the subject however, there is no auxiliary.
- What course is he studying?
- When can she get away?
- How did you hear about it?
- Who goes there?
4. Alternative ("either / or") questions
- These are similar to "yes / no" questions but require a choice of answer. Main and auxiliary verbs are inverted, "do does (did)" is used if necessary and the question gives the alternatives. The answer states the correct or desired alternative.
- Should we stay or should we go now?
- Is it sunny outside or do I need an umbrella?
- Are you coming or not?
5. Statement questions
- Sometimes a statement is used like a question, especially in informal spoken English. The intonation is usually like other questions however (i.e. rising at the end). Statement questions generally require a yes / no answer, with the information restated for extra clarity.
- He really believes that?
- You don't want anything to eat?
- The projects have to be finished by Thursday?
6. Tag questions
- These consist of a statement (positive or negative) with a short question "tagged" onto the end. If the statement is affirmative, the tag is negative and vice versa. Tag questions can either be used to ask a genuine question (intonation rising at end) or to verify information you think you already know (intonation falling at end).They require yes / no type answers.
- Q: Dr Leung hasn't given us a deadline yet, has she? A: No she hasn't
- Q: Semester starts on 4th October, doesn't it? A: Yes it does.
- Q: You couldn't lend me $100, could you? A: Sorry mate!
- Q: Dogs like bones, don't they? A: They certainly do!
- Q: He's very good looking, isn't he? A: Do you really think so?
- Q: Water boils at 100°C, doesn't it? A: Yes it does.
7. Indirect (embedded questions)
- In direct questions, the verb (usually the auxiliary) is either first or comes immediately after the question word. In indirect questions, there is a question phrase followed by "if" or "whether", then a statement type ending to the question.
|Direct Question||Indirect (embedded) Question|
|Is she at home?||Do you know if she is at home?|
|Can you help me?||Do you think you can help me?|
|Has she told them?||Have you any idea if she has told them?|
|What did she say?||Do you know what she said?|
- Indirect questions also include questions in reported speech.
- They wanted to know if I was English.
- She asked me what I did in my free time.
- They asked him if he was hungry!