How to Ask Questions Like a Native Speaker

This lesson will teach you the phrases and grammar structures you need to ask questions like a native speaker. There are five ways to ask questions like a native speaker. The way to ask the question depends on the grammar structure of your original question.

The 5 question phrases you can use to begin your question are:

Could you tell me…

I wonder…

I wanted to know…

Do you know…

Who knows…


1  Simple Questions with Who / What / When / How / Where / Why Question Words

In a normal question the word order is:

[question word] + [verb] + [object]

For example:

Where is he? Who is that? What are they? When is it?

To ask a question like a native speaker we begin the question with one of the question phrases and then change the word order of the simple question:

[question word] + [object] + [verb]

For example:

Could you tell me where he is?

I wonder who that is?

I wanted to know what they are?


2 Questions in the present simple and past simple with do / does / did

Questions in the present and past simple have ‘do’ ‘does’ and ‘did’. 

First we need to remove ‘do’, ‘does’ and ‘did’.

Then we may need to change the verb conjugation.

For example:

When does the lesson start? —-> Could you tell me when the lesson starts?

How did they do it? —-> I wonder how they did it?

What do you do? —–> I wanted to know what you do?


3 When There is No Question Word

When you don’t have any question word such as ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘how’, ‘why’ or ‘where’ and also when ‘do’, ‘does’ or ‘did’ is not in the question.

This is when we use ‘if’ or ‘whether’.

In these questions we need to change the question word order from [verb] + [subject] + [object] to a statement form word order: [subject] + [verb] + [object] 

Is it expensive? —-> it is expensive.

Have they got a car? —-> They have got a car.

Can I have a cake? —-> I can have a cake.

We then prefix with a question phrase:

Who knows if I can have a cake?

Do you know if they have got a car?

I wonder whether it is expensive?