Just a Simple Yes or No
Remember the game “Twenty Questions”? You can get a lot of information just by asking someone yes-or-no questions. In English, yes-or-no questions with the verb “to be” are formed by inverting the position of the subject and verb in a declarative sentence like this: You are tall. > Are you tall?
Yes-or-no questions with verbs other than “be” in English require the helping verb “do,” for example: Do you study Spanish?
In Spanish yes-or-no questions generally follow the reversed subject / verb pattern. Auxiliary verbs are not needed for making any questions or answering them. However, questions in Spanish have a unique feature: they are bracketed by an inverted question mark at the beginning and a standard question mark at the end like this:
Statements as Questions
The verb + subject formula is the most common one for yes-or-no questions in Spanish. There is another way, though. In both English and Spanish you can convert the standard word order for a statement into a question simply by raising the inflection at the end of the sentence. Listen to and repeat each example of a sentence and question on Track 14. Focus on the different intonation for each.
John works in a bookstore. > John works in a bookstore?
Practice: Yes-or-No Question Formation
Rewrite the following statements as yes-or-no questions with the verb before the subject. Then check your work in Appendix D. Though there might be minor variations, look for the placement of the subject and the verb.
Marta es delgada.(Marta is slender.) Ellos hablan con su abuela.(They are talking to their grandmother.) La Paz está en Bolivia.(La Paz is in Bolivia.) Yo soy bonita.(I am pretty.) Tú comes mucho.(You eat a lot.) Nosotros trabajamos el día de fiesta.(We work on the holiday.) Tus amigos viven en Cusco.(Your friends live in Cusco.) Javier regresa el lunes.(Javier comes back on Monday.) Los niños ven mucha televisión.(The kids watch a lot of television.) Yo voy a Paraguay en marzo.(I go to Paraguay in March.)