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Quetion words

Understanding Grammar: Questions

Understanding Grammar: Questions

In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Jack and Rich focus on grammar and take a look at different question types. They have three roleplays for you this week, in two of them they are playing games that involve asking questions and in the other Jack is trying to find a place in town. Your tasks are to challenge other listeners to guess a mystery footballer and to ask politely about something connected to another listener's country or city. Don't forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have a new football phrase for you to guess, too. Enjoy!

Transcript

If the listening was a bit difficult, you can listen again and read the transcript at the same time.
Read and listen at the same time.

Introduction

Jack: Hello my name’s Jack

Rich: and I’m Rich and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast

Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.

Rich: We recommend that you listen to this podcast on the Premier Skills English website because that is where we have the transcript, language examples, activities, quizzes and a discussion page to help you understand everything we talk about.

Jack: However, if you’re listening on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, you can leave answers to our questions in the review section. We do read all the reviews and would love to hear from you.

Rich: In this week’s podcast, we’re going to play some games.

Jack: Some games. Brilliant. What are we going to play? Fifa? Fortnite? Football?

Rich: Maybe not those games. We’re going to play some games that involve questions.

Jack: Questions ... Okay.

Rich: There are many different types of questions in English and in this podcast, we’re going to focus on three types of question.

Jack: And we’re going to play some games, too.

Rich: That’s right. We are going to speak about five question types and focus on three of them. The five are: yes/no questions, w questions, indirect questions (in polite situations), tag questions and negative questions.

Jack: We will do three roleplays and you have to work out which question type we are looking at each time.

Rich: After each roleplay, we’ll talk about how, when and why we use each type of question.

Jack: After we’ve looked at the language, we are going to ask you to write some of your own questions games in this week’s task.

Rich: OK, questions and games, sounds good, but before all that, we need to take a look at last week’s football phrase.

Last week’s Football Phrase

Jack: Last week’s phrase was really difficult, Rich.

Rich: I thought it was, but we still got a few correct answers. Well done to Luibomyr from Ukraine, Milos from Serbia and Elghoul from Algeria. They got it spot on.

Jack: A few people thought the answer was a professional or tactical foul. Ali from Iran, Khaldoun83 from Algeria and Matrix from Vietnam thought this and you were on the right lines - you got the correct meaning of the phrase, but the phrase we want is a bit more idiomatic.

Rich: Sometimes it can help to look at the transcript on the website because we write asterisks for the number of letters and words in the phrase.

Jack: Let’s let listeners have one more chance to guess now and we’ll tell you the answer at the end of the show.

Rich: OK. Here it is. The football phrase is to **** *** *** *** ****. This phrase is used to describe the situation when a player makes a very obvious foul for the benefit of the rest of his teammates. An example might be when a team is losing 1-0 with a few minutes left and the other team attacks and the final defender fouls the attacker because he was going to score. The defender is sent off or given a yellow card. He **** *** *** *** **** because they still have a chance to equalise.

Jack: We’ll give you the answer at the end of the show and a new football phrase, too. I think we need an easier one this week.

Rich: Well, it’s your turn to think of a football phrase so it probably won’t be too challenging, you do like the easy ones.

Introduction to roleplay

Jack: This week our roleplay is going to be a bit different. You are going to listen to three roleplays that involve questions.

Rich: While you listen we want you to think about the type of questions we are using.

Jack: There are five possibilities: negative questions, indirect questions, yes/no questions, ‘W’ questions and tag questions.

Rich: Oh, yes and sometimes we want you to listen and play along. You can tell us the answers in the comments section if you know them.

Jack: Let’s start with roleplay 1. We’re playing a game …

Roleplay 1

Rich: Right, I’ve got a famous person’s name written on this paper in front of me. You have to guess who it is. Got it?

Jack: Why is this famous person famous? What’s he or she called?

Rich: Haha! I didn’t tell you all the rules. I can only answer with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and you’ve only got thirty seconds.

Jack: Thirty seconds??

Rich: Ready, steady go!

Jack: Is this person a man?

Rich: Yes.

Jack: Is he famous?

Rich: It’s the famous person game! Yes.

Jack: Alright. Is he a singer?

Rich: Nope.

Jack: Is he a footballer?

Rich: Yep.

Jack: Does he play in the Premier League?

Rich: Yes.

Jack: Is he a striker?

Rich: No.

Jack: Can he pick up the ball?

Rich: Yes.

Jack: Erm, so he’s a goalkeeper.

Rich: That’s not a question.

Jack: Is he a goalkeeper?

Rich: Yes.

Jack: Err .. Does he come from Brazil?

Rich: Yes.

Jack: Does he play for Liverp ...

Rich: Time’s up. I win.

Jack: Oh come on!

Language Focus 1

Rich: So, did you get the answer to our question? What type of questions were we using in the game?

Jack: We were using yes/no questions. Oh, and if you know who the famous person is, let us know in the comments section.

Rich: Yes/no questions. These are pretty easy, right? They are used most often to get basic information about something.

Jack: Yes, they are but there are still a few things to remember. For example, to change a sentence into a yes/no question we use something called inversion.

Rich: This involves moving the verb to the beginning of the question so sentences like ‘He’s a goalkeeper’ or ‘He can pick up the ball’ become ‘Is he a goalkeeper?’ and ‘Can he pick up the ball?’.

Jack: But remember if there is no auxiliary verb in the sentence or you’re not using the verb ‘to be’ then you need to add ‘do’ or ‘does’ or ‘did’.

Rich: So a sentence like ‘He plays in the Premier League’ becomes ‘Does he play in the Premier League?’

Jack: However, we are often quite lazy, too and sometimes don’t invert a sentence to make a question especially when we think something is surprising.

Rich: He plays in the Premier League? She plays for Liverpool? It’s going to rain? All of these examples use rising intonation to show that we are surprised or confused and there is no inversion.

Jack: Yes/No questions. Easy. Let’s do our second roleplay. Remember, while you listen we want you to think about the type of questions we are using.

Rich: There are four more possibilities: negative questions, indirect questions, ‘W’ questions, and tag questions.

Roleplay 2

Jack: Oh, hello there. Do you happen to know where the leisure centre is?

Rich: Sorry, pal. I’m not from around here.

Jack: Excuse me. I don’t suppose you know where the leisure centre is?

Rich: Sorry, mate, I’m not sure - I haven’t been to a leisure centre for a while. I think it might be behind the cinema.

Jack: Sorry to bother you. I was wondering if you knew where the cinema was.

Rich: Cinema? I think it closed down a few years ago. Everybody watches Netflix these days.

Jack: Hi there, sorry to interrupt. Could you tell me where the leisure centre is, please?

Rich: Yes, of course. No bother. I work there - I’ve just finished for the day.

Jack: It’s closed?

Rich: Yeah, we closed half an hour ago.

Jack: Oh, for goodness sake!

Language Focus 2

Rich: Jack didn’t have much luck finding the sports centre, but did you get the answer to our question? What type of questions were we focusing on in the roleplay?

Jack: We were looking at indirect questions that we use in polite situations. To be polite we might use a question such as ‘Could you tell me where the sports centre is?’ rather than ‘Where is the sports centre?’ because that is too direct and people, especially strangers, may think it is rude.

Rich: There are a few things to remember when using indirect questions to be polite.

Jack: The first is that we use a polite phrase before we ask the question. In the roleplay, you heard phrases like ‘Could you tell me... ‘, ‘Do you know’, ‘Do you happen to know’, ‘I don’t suppose you know’ and ‘I was wondering if’.

Rich: These phrases make the sentence polite and are very useful to learn. There is also an important grammar rule to learn.

Jack: We spoke about inversion earlier when we were speaking about yes/no questions. In indirect questions, we don’t use inversion. Listen for the word ‘is’ in these two questions.

Rich: Where is the sports centre? Could you tell me where the sports centre is?

Jack: In the first question which is a direct question we find ‘is’ before the subject but in indirect questions, it’s after the subject. It can be difficult to remember to put ‘is’ at the end of the sentence.

Rich: When we say an indirect yes/no question things are different again. We use the word ‘if’. Here are a couple of other examples:

Rich: Is there a cinema near here? Could you tell me if there is a cinema near here?

Jack: These are yes/no questions and again you can see there is inversion in the direct question but when we use an indirect yes/no question we use the word ‘if’ followed by a normal positive sentence, in this in the present simple.

Rich: One other thing that can be difficult is when we use indirect questions which use ‘do’, ‘does’ or ‘did’ in direct questions. Listen to these two examples:

Jack: When does the match start? Would you mind telling me when the match starts?

Rich: The indirect question doesn’t use the auxiliary verb and we need to remember to use the correct tense so we need the third person ‘s’ with the present simple in this example.

Jack: OK, I think that’s enough of that for now. Let’s do another roleplay.

Rich: What type of questions are we focussing on in this roleplay? There are three more possibilities: negative questions, ‘W’ questions, and tag questions.

Roleplay 3

Jack: So, I’m going to read two questions and you have to say in which sentence I’m sure about what I’m talking about and in which I’m not sure.

Rich: OK, let’s go.

Jack: Question A: Arsenal don’t have a chance of winning, do they?

Jack: Question B: Arsenal don’t have a chance of winning, do they?

Rich: A you’re sure Arsenal won’t win but B you think they have a chance.

Jack: Good. Another.

Jack: Question A: Harry Kane scored again, didn’t he?

Jack: Question B: Harry Kane scored again, didn’t he?

Rich: A you know that Harry Kane scored but B you’re not sure. You’re asking me a question. Another.

Jack: Question A: He’s not going to try a shot from there, is he?

Jack: Question B: He’s not going to try a shot from there, is he?

Rich: In A you’re certain that he’s not going to shoot because you think it would be silly. In question B, you’re not sure.

Jack: Good work. Now, your turn.

Rich: OK. Question A: You can’t go to the match tonight, can you?

Rich: Question B: You can’t go to the match tonight, can you?

Jack: In question A you’re sure that I can’t go and in B you’re not sure. One more.

Rich: Question A: He hasn’t scored in ages, has he?

Rich: Question B: He hasn’t scored in ages, has he?

Jack: OK in A you know that he hasn’t scored for a long time and in B you’re not so sure.

Language Focus 3

Rich: Did you get the answer to our question? What type of questions were we focusing on in the roleplay?

Jack: We were looking at tag questions in that roleplay, weren’t we?

Rich: British people use question tags a lot, don’t they?

Jack: We can stop using them now, can’t we?

Rich: I’m not sure. It’s fun, isn’t it?

Jack: No, it’s not. Stop.

Rich: OK, I’ll stop. Let’s talk quickly about why we might use question tags, how we create them and why pronunciation, or more specifically intonation, is important.

Jack: We usually use question tags when we want to make sure that what we are saying is correct and/or we want the other person to agree with us. Like when we say something like ‘Paul Pogba’s from France, isn’t he?’ or ‘You speak Spanish, don’t you?’. We are more or less sure that it’s true - they are not real questions.

Rich: How do we write them? A question tag is negative if the main part of the sentence is positive as in ‘You’re English, aren’t you?’ but a question tag is positive if the main part of the sentence is negative as in ‘You’re not from London, are you?’.

Jack: The question tag repeats the modal verb or verb to be that is in the main part of the sentence. If there is no auxiliary verb then the verb ‘do’ is used in the question tag.

Rich: Sometimes a question tag can be said with less certainty and it often becomes more of a question and needs a response. We know this by how the question sounds, the intonation - the way our voice moves up and down.

Jack: In the roleplay, you heard examples of question tags with falling intonation and rising intonation. It’s more common to hear question tags with falling intonation, which means the speaker is sure about what they are saying.

Rich: When the speaker uses rising intonation, they are less sure and want an answer or some clarification. Let’s hear an example again. First with falling intonation:

Jack: ‘You speak Spanish, don’t you?’

Rich: Jack knows I speak Spanish and I don’t really need to answer him. Now with rising intonation:

Jack: ‘You speak Spanish, don’t you?’

Rich: Here, Jack is not sure so I should tell him if I speak Spanish or not.

Jack: We’ve got more examples and practice activities of all the question types we’ve looked at on the Premier Skills English website.

TASK

Jack: Your task this week is to ask and answer lots of questions. We have three tasks for you to complete.

Rich: We want you to practise yes/no questions, indirect questions in polite situations and tag questions.

Jack: First, task number one: yes/no questions. You need to think of a famous footballer. On the page for this podcast on the Premier Skills English website you have to write ‘I have a famous footballer’.

Rich: Then, other listeners have to ask yes/no questions until they guess the player.

Jack: Next is task number two. Ask other listeners a question of your choice in a polite way. You might want to ask them about the city they live in, what they do, or their football team.

Rich: Use the polite phrases and indirect question forms that we used in roleplay two.

Jack: Finally, task number three. We want you to think of something that you think most of our listeners will agree with and write it as a question tag in the comments section.

Rich: For example, you might write ‘Football is fantastic, isn’t it?’.

Jack: Let’s see if everyone agrees with you. Write all your answers in the comments section.

Football Phrase

Rich: OK, it’s time for this week’s football phrase. It’s Jack's turn this week so we want to see lots of right answers on the website.

Jack: You think my phrases are too easy, don’t you?

Rich: No, not at all. They’re just good definitions! Let’s hear it.

Jack: This week’s football phrase is a **** ** ****. We use this phrase when a team has played one match fewer than another team or other teams. We might say City are two points behind United but they have a **** ** **** so could go above them if they win their **** ** ****. Near the end of the season, a team might have two or three ***** ** **** on other teams.

Rich: I like it. Not too easy but not too difficult. Let’s see how everyone does.

Jack: Write your guesses in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website and we’ll announce your name on next week’s show if you get it right.

Rich: Before we forget we need to give you the answer to last week’s football phrase. The answer was to take one for the team.

Jack: Right, that’s all we have time for this week. Bye for now and enjoy your football!

Vocabulary

How much did you understand?

In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. Do you know the words in bold?

Well done to Luibomyr from Ukraine and Milos from Serbia. They got it spot on.

You have to guess who it is. Got it?

Time’s up. I win.

Sorry, pal. I’m not from around here.

Sorry, mate, I’m not sure - I haven’t been to a sports centre for a while.

Cinema? I think it closed down a few years ago. Everybody watches Netflix these days.

All of these phrases were in the roleplay. Listen to the roleplay again and read the transcript. Listen for the phrases in bold. If you're not sure what they mean, have a go at the activity below or ask us a question in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Activity 1

Activity 1: In this activity, try to match the words and phrases to their definitions. All of the words were in this week's podcast.
Can you match the words to the definitions?

Alisson is from Brazil, isn't he?

Questions

Yes/No Questions

Very simply, yes/no questions are questions which we answer with 'yes' or 'no'. In the first roleplay, Jack and Rich played a game that involved asking yes/no questions: 

Jack: Is he a footballer?

Rich: Yep.

Jack: Does he play in the Premier League?

Rich: Yes.

When we use the verbs 'be' and 'have' in yes/no questions we make the question by putting the verb in front of the subject. This is called inversion. For example, the sentence 'He is a fooballer' becomes 'Is he a footballer?'. For all other verbs, we use 'do', does' and 'did' at the beginning of a yes/no question. For example, the sentence 'He plays in the Premier League' becomes 'Does he play in the Premier League?'.

Didn't Raheem Sterling use to play for Liverpool?

Questions

Indirect questions for polite situations

In the second roleplay, Jack was looking for the leisure centre and had to ask a few people for help. When we speak to people we don't know, we normally use polite forms. Take a look at a couple of the questions Jack used in the roleplay and look at the phrases in bold:

I don’t suppose you know where the leisure centre is?

Would you mind telling me when the match starts?

When we use indirect questions in polite situations, we usually start by using a polite phrase like in the examples above. Some similar phrases include:

  • Could you tell me ... 

  • Do you know ...

  • Do you happen to know ...

  • I was wondering if ...

Grammar

In indirect questions, we don’t use inversion. Look at the word ‘is’ in these two questions:

Direct: Where is the sports centre?

Indirect: Could you tell me where the sports centre is?

In direct questions we can see ‘is’ before the subject but in indirect questions, it’s after the subject. Indirect yes/no question things are a little bit different again. We use the word ‘if’. Here are is an example:

Direct: Is there a cinema near here?

Indirect: Could you tell me if there is a cinema near here?

Again, there is no inversion in the indirect question. One other thing that can be difficult is when we use indirect questions which use ‘do’, ‘does’ or ‘did’. Look at these two examples:

Direct: When does the match start?

Indirect: Would you mind telling me when the match starts?

The indirect question doesn’t use the auxiliary verb 'does' and we need to remember to use the correct tense. In this example, we need the third person ‘s’ as it is the present simple.

Activity 2

Activity 2: In this activity, transform direct questions into indirect questions.
Can you complete each sentence?

Would you mind telling me where Arsenal bought Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from?

Questions

Question tags

In the third roleplay, Jack and Rich used lots of question tags. Question tags are usually used when we want to make sure that what we are saying is correct and/or we want the other person to agree with us. Here are two examples from the podcast:

Jack: Paul Pogba is from France, isn't he?

Rich: This is fun, isn't it?

In the first example, Jack knows that Paul Pogba is from France he just wants to check. In the second example, Rich thinks something is fun and he wants Jack to agree with him.

Grammar

A question tag is negative if the main part of the sentence is positive:

You’re English, aren’t you?

A question tag is positive if the main part of the sentence is negative:

You’re not from London, are you?

The question tag repeats the modal verb or verb to be that is in the main part of the sentence. If there is no modal verb (can, should, might etc.) or the verb is not 'be' or 'have' then ‘do’ is used in the question tag:

Harry Kane scored again, didn’t he?

Intonation

Sometimes a question tag can be said with less certainty and is more of a real question. We know this by how the question sounds, the intonation - the way our voice moves up and down. In the roleplay, you heard examples of question tags with falling intonation and rising intonation. It’s more common to hear question tags with falling intonation, which means the speaker is sure about what they are saying. When the speaker’s using rising intonation, they are less sure and want an answer or some clarification. Listen to roleplay three again to hear the different intonation patterns.

Activity 3

Activity 3: In this activity, add the questions tags to the correct sentence.
Do you know your question tags?

Paul Pogba's been injured a lot recently, hasn't he?

Quiz

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Task

Using Different Question Types

Harry Kane's the best goalscorer in the Premier League, isn't he?

This week we have three mini-tasks for you to do that give you the chance to use the different types of questions we spoke about in the podcast.

  • Mini-task one: Think of a famous footballer. In the comments section, write ‘I have a famous footballer’. Other listeners have to ask yes/no questions until they guess the player correctly.
  • Mini-task two: Ask other listeners a question of your choice in a polite way. You might want to ask them about the city they live in, what they do, or their football team. 
  • Mini-task three: Think of something that you think most of our listeners will agree with and write a sentence and a question tag in the comments section. For example, you might write ‘Football is fantastic, isn’t it?’. 

Write all your answers in the comments section below and don't forget to make a guess at this week's football phrase!

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Komentar

elghoul's picture
elghoul
09/10/2019
DZ
3306
points

I have a famous footballer.


elghoul's picture
elghoul
09/10/2019 16:14
Algeria
Manchester City
3306

I have a famous footballer.

elghoul's picture
elghoul
09/10/2019
DZ
3306
points

Football phrase guess, left to play.


elghoul's picture
elghoul
09/10/2019 15:55
Algeria
Manchester City
3306

Football phrase guess, left to play.

lakerwang
08/10/2019
CN
289
points

The football phrase is "**** ** ****".


lakerwang
08/10/2019 16:08
China
Chelsea
289

The football phrase is "**** ** ****".

Ali Vasheghani's picture
Ali Vasheghani
06/10/2019
IR
16
points

The famous goalkeeper is ******* ******


Ali Vasheghani's picture
Ali Vasheghani
06/10/2019 15:27
Iran
Liverpool
16

The famous goalkeeper is ******* ******

Ali Vasheghani's picture
Ali Vasheghani
06/10/2019
IR
16
points

I think the phrase would be **** ** ****


Ali Vasheghani's picture
Ali Vasheghani
06/10/2019 15:22
Iran
Liverpool
16

I think the phrase would be **** ** ****

Ahmed Abdallah
04/10/2019
EG
5
points

I think this week's phrase is a **** ** ****.


Ahmed Abdallah
04/10/2019 22:15
Egypt
Chelsea
5

I think this week's phrase is a **** ** ****.

Liubomyr's picture
Liubomyr
04/10/2019
UA
3626
points

I think that the phrase is a '**** ** ****' and Rich's famous person is *******.


Liubomyr's picture
Liubomyr
04/10/2019 16:08
Ukraine
Watford
3626

I think that the phrase is a '**** ** ****' and Rich's famous person is *******.

tran
04/10/2019
VN
11
points

I think the phrase is: **** ** ****


tran
04/10/2019 13:12
Vietnam
Manchester United
11

I think the phrase is: **** ** ****

Leaderboard

Top Scorers
RankNameScore
1kwesimanifest4731
2assemjuve3705
3Liubomyr3626
4aragorn19863557
5Alex_from_Ukraine3471
6wsanta3347
7elghoul3306
8haydi3189
9Ahmed Adam Mamado2869
10Buchiy2514
Country ranking
RankNameScore
1Colombia69603
2Ukraine28813
3Serbia26752
4Albania20439
5Spain19741
6Macedonia19058
7Bosnia and Herzegovina16248
8Armenia13611
9Vietnam13197
10Kosovo13125
Club ranking
RankNameScore
1Manchester United122864
2Liverpool80444
3Chelsea70725
4Arsenal68057
5Manchester City39669
6Leicester City10947
7Tottenham Hotspur8316
8Newcastle United7426
9West Ham United4617
10Watford4307

Level

3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Goals

Skills: Listening

Grammar: Question types

Task: Ask other listeners some questions