Spanish Grammar: Asking Questions – Yes / No

Spanish Grammar: Asking YES or NO Questions

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Identify:

Spanish Grammar: Asking Questions – Yes / No
la gramática española: hacer preguntas – sí / no

  • Communicate simple positive or negative queries.
  • Receive quick answers to basic questions.

Study:

A “Yes / No” question is a question that can be answered simply by ”Yes” or “No”.  Asking questions is a basic, but important, communication skill in Spanish, just as it is in English!

There are several ways to ask a “Yes / No” question in Spanish.  Most of these are similar to the ways we can do this in English.  A statement is the basic building block for asking most “Yes / No” questions in Spanish.

A written Spanish question will always begin with an upside-down question mark and end with a regular question mark. The upside-down question mark lets the reader know that a question is coming!

FIRST METHOD:

The first (and easiest!) way to ask a “Yes / No” question is to simply use your voice intonation to turn a statement into a question.  When making a statement, your voice intonation normally drops at the end of the sentence.  When asking a “Yes / No” question, your voice should rise at the end of the question.  (We do this in English, too!)

STATEMENT:
Tú hablas español. : You speak Spanish.

QUESTION:
¿Tú hablas español?
 : (Do) You speak Spanish?

SECOND METHOD:

If you anticipate that the answer to your “Yes / No” question is probably going to be “Yes”, you can use either ¿NO?  or ¿VERDAD? at the end of the statement.  ¿NO?’ and ¿VERDAD? are both the equivalent of “right?”; “isn’t that so?”; “don’t you/we/they?”; or  “isn’t/doesn’t he/she/it?” in English.  We also use rising intonation at the end of the question when using either ¿NO? or ¿VERDAD?.

STATEMENT:
Tú hablas español. : You speak Spanish.

QUESTION:
Tú hablas español, ¿no?
 : You speak Spanish, right?

STATEMENT:
Tú hablas español. : You speak Spanish.


QUESTION:
Tú hablas español, ¿verdad?
 : You speak Spanish, don’t you?

THIRD METHOD:

A third way to ask “Yes / No” questions is called INVERSION. With INVERSION, the conjugated verb comes at the beginning of the question followed by the subject pronoun and the rest of the sentence.  Rising voice intonation also occurs at the end of a question using inversion.

STATEMENT:
Tú hablas español. : You speak Spanish.

QUESTION:
¿Hablas tú
español?
 : Do you speak Spanish?

AN IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT ANSWERING QUESTIONS: When answering questions, always pay attention to the subject pronoun used in the question. The subject pronoun in the answer will be based on which subject pronoun was used in the question.

If the question is asked of you, the answer is in the I form; If the question asks about he, then the answer is also about he, etc.

Here is a complete listing:

If the question asks: ¿ YO ?
In the answer, use: or USTED (depending on your relationship with the speaker)

If the question asks: ?
In the answer, use: YO

If the question asks: ÉL ?
In the answer, use: ÉL

If the question asks: ELLA ?
In the answer, use: ELLA

If the question asks: NOSOTROS(AS) ?
In the answer, use: NOSOTROS(AS)VOSOTROS(AS), or USTEDES (depending on whether or not you yourself are part of the group)

If the question asks: VOSOTROS(AS) ?
In the answer, use: NOSOTROS(AS)

If the question asks: ELLOS ?
In the answer, use: ELLOS

If the question asks: ELLAS ?
In the answer, use: ELLAS

If the question asks: USTEDES ?
In the answer, use: NOSOTROS(AS)

Adapt:

¿Tú nadas bien?

Do you (informal) swim well?

Sí, yo nado bien.
Yes, I swim well.

Usted viaja mucho, ¿no?

You (formal) travel a lot, don’t you?

Sí, yo viajo mucho.

Yes, I travel a lot.

¿Son ellos estudiantes?

Are they students?

No, ellos no son estudiantes.
Yes, they are students.

Ustedes estudian español, ¿verdad?
Y’all study Spanish, right?

Sí, nosotros estudiamos español.

Yes, we study Spanish.

Ella es estadounidense, ¿no?

She is American, isn’t she?

Sí, ella es estadounidense.
Yes, she is American.

¿Aprende él italiano?

Is he learning Italian?

No, él no aprende italiano.

No, he isn’t learning Italian.

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