What are Interrogative Sentences? Definition, Meaning, Examples, Sentences


When it comes to the four kinds of sentences, interrogative sentences are used to ask a question to understand something. You will learn how to use interrogative sentences, their definitions and types, and how they are used in this article. The examples will help you understand how they are used.

In this article, we will learn what are interrogative sentences along with definitions, examples, sentence examples, list, singular & plural forms, etc.

Let’s explore!

What are Interrogative Sentences? Definition, Meaning

An interrogative sentence is one of the many different sentences we use as a tool to communicate in the English language. But how do you define an interrogative sentence? Basically, an interrogative sentence is used to ask a question. These sentences are punctuated with question marks.

Define Interrogative Sentence

The interrogative sentence is generally used to gather information about something by asking a question. The question can be casual or specific depending on the context.

There is a lot of definition of interrogative sentence which is as follows:

Cambridge Dictionary defines an interrogative sentence as a question or a request for information. As defined by Collins Dictionary, an interrogative sentence is one used to ask a question. An interrogative sentence is one that has the form or force of a question, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

We use these sentences whenever we have a doubt, a query, or feel the need for confirmation. Based on their application, there are different types of interrogative sentences.

Some of the most common interrogative sentence examples are:

  • What are you doing there?
  • Where have you kept my books?
  • Would you care to join me for tonight’s dinner?
  • Did you do that work all by yourself?
  • Have you been to India?
  • Is it really necessary to do?

Most of the interrogative sentences will often begin with one of the following words.

  • Do / does / did
  • How
  • When
  • Where
  • What
  • Which
  • Who
  • Why
  • Have / has / had
  • Am / is / are / was / were

If you find a sentence beginning with one of these words, then chances are pretty high that you are looking at an example of an interrogative sentence.

These sentences are very easy to find in newspapers and magazines and especially where you can see interviews. Some examples can be:

  • How many more records will Christiano Ronaldo break in his career?
  • Who can be the ideal successor of Leo Messi from Argentina?
  • What should you do when you can’t find your mobile phone?
  • What are the steps to reset the password of your email account?

What About Sentences With Indirect Questions?

If a sentence asks no question despite having an interrogative clause, in that case, it is not an interrogative sentence. Instead, it is a simple assertive or declarative sentence. Let’s look at a few examples to understand them better.

I wonder how he had achieved that.

“How he had achieved that” is an interrogative clause

But it doesn’t ask any question; hence, it is a declarative statement.

He asked me why I had run away.

“Why had I run away” is an interrogative clause.

Again no question asked, so this is a declarative statement.

These indirect questions can also be written as a part of interrogative sentences.

Some examples are:

  • Direct question: Which way is the Eiffel Tour?
  • Indirect question: Could you please tell me which way is the Eiffel Tour?
  • Direct question: Where is your brother?
  • Indirect question: Will you please tell me where your brother is?

Subjects in Interrogative Sentences

One of the most challenging things about the interrogative sentence is finding the subject. This is a problem for many students. However, there is a very easy way to do that.

Let’s find that out.

  • Firstly, just transform the interrogative sentence into a statement.
  • Then, identify the main verb of that statement.
  • Now, just ask “who?” or “what?” followed by the verb.
  • The answer to the question will be the subject.

Let’s look at a few sentences:

Do you want to have some dinner?

You want to have some dinner.

Verb: want

Who or What You want?

Subject: you

Can you speak English?

You can speak English.

Verb: can

Who or What you can?

Subject: you

Key Points while Using Interrogative Sentence

Now that you know there are different types of interrogative sentences, let’s observe some things you should consider when crafting an interrogative sentence.

  • Auxiliary verbs, modal verbs, or ‘Wh’ question words starting with a capital letter are acceptable for the interrogative sentence.
  • Put a question mark at the end of the interrogative sentence. One can also identify an interrogative sentence by this.
  • Interrogative sentences are slightly reversed versions of declarative sentences. Thus, the structure of an interrogative sentence can be summarized as follows: Auxiliary Verb, Main Verb, Model Verb + Subject + Main Verb “if it is more than one verb in the sentence” + the rest of the sentence.

Uses of Interrogative Sentence

Despite the fact that the primary function of an interrogative sentence is to ask a question, interrogative sentences can do much more than just ask questions. Below are a few of the ways in which interrogative sentences are used.

  • Asking a direct question.
  • Clarification requested.
  • Confirming something.
  • Information gathering.

Asking a Direct Question

  1. What are your plans for the studies?
  2. Where am I going?
  3. When are your parents leaving for Germany?

Clarification Requested

  1. When computer engineers say Technology Advancements, what did they exactly mean?
  2. Are they sure they want to go ahead with this?
  3. So, is it mandatory that he should wear a white shirt for the event?

Confirming Something

  1. Isn’t he the one who has been elected as the president of the Literary Club?
  2. Could he please repeat it?
  3. Is this the deadline for the internal assessment?

Information Gathering

  1. What are the things that you will have to carry with them?
  2. What are the documents that you should submit?
  3. Can you tell them how to make these cookies?

Types of Interrogative Sentence

The three types of interrogative sentences can be classified as follows:

  • Choice Questions
  • Yes & No Questions
  • WH Questions
  • Alternative Interrogatives
  • Tag Questions
  • Indirect Questions

Choice Questions

Interrogative sentences such as these can be used to find out what someone likes, dislikes, and prefers.

Example:

  1. Do you prefer rice or bread along with lunch?
  2. What would I choose?
  3. Do you like reading novels or playing video games?

Yes/No Questions

As the name implies, this type of interrogative sentence has only two possible answers: yes or no.

The questions starting with words like Who, What, When are called Wh-questions, and all the other questions are called Yes/No questions. These questions are simply used to affirm something yes or no. These questions start with verbs followed by the subject.

Example:

  • Do you have a pen?
  • Have you had dinner?
  • Was the concert good?
  • Have you seen the movie?
  • Did you fetch some water?

WH Questions

If you would like to gather more information than just a yes or no, these types of interrogative sentences are used. The words starting with ‘Wh’ are what, where, when, why, whom, which, whose, and how.

Example:

  1. What is my name?
  2. Why are they late?
  3. Where am I coming from?
  4. When can we come?
  5. Whose mobile is this?
  6. Whom did I meet?
  7. Which car is it?
  8. How will he do it?

Alternative Interrogatives

These questions are signified by the word “or”, and thus they are designed to offer one or more choices while asking the question. They sometimes begin with a helping verb.

  • Would you like the green one or the yellow one?
  • Are you mad or what?
  • Do you think I should go there or not?
  • Is your father okay, or shall I call 911?
  • Are you coming in five minutes, or shall I start ordering?

Tag Questions

There are some questions that are added to the end of declarative sentences. These are called tag questions. An assertive statement will always state a fact. But you can add a short question, in the end, to make it an interrogative fragment. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • She’s an excellent cricketer, isn’t she?
  • Fetch him a glass of water, will you?
  • There’s no one in the room, is there?
  • You’re very clever, aren’t you?
  • You think you’re very smart, don’t you?

Indirect Questions

Even with open-ended questions, interrogative sentences usually ask direct questions. But the indirect questions are different. They can be there in the declarative sentence, yet they can carry a different meaning altogether. Let’s understand that with some examples:

  • I was wondering if I could come along on the trip.

Here, the word “if” sets up the indirect question that is already there in the declarative sentence. The purpose is to state the fact that the subject is still interested in going.

  • I was wondering if I could come by your house sometime.

If you wish to have an answer to a question, it’s is better to ask it directly in your writing or speaking, rather than using an indirect question like this. It may convey your tone, but it is not an interrogative sentence.

Why Should I Care about Interrogative Sentences?

With the above discussion, I believe you can very well understand that interrogative sentences are essential. They’re the best tool for getting the information you want.

They are not common like an assertive sentence, so you must understand their rules and regulations beforehand. If you are a student, then understanding this concept is absolutely essential.

Just study all the points mentioned in this post, and you will not have any problem using them. If you are not a native English speaker, there can be many reasons to consider learning about interrogative sentences.

Should you have further queries, mention them in the comments section. We will try to answer your questions on interrogative sentences as soon as we can.

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