The Word Order of Questions in English

Word order can be a little tricky in English questions. You have to remember that for all questions, the first little verbal element of the sentence moves to the front. This could be a modal like 'can', some form of 'be', or just a verbal affix like '-ed'. For WH questions, the WH expression then moves to the very front. Let's look at some examples. The moving elements are underlined and marked with numbers.

Statement: Joe can1 play basketball2 really well.
Yes/No Question: Can1 Joe (1) play basketball2 really well?
WH Question: What2 can1 Joe (1) play (2) really well?

Statement: Joe's1 a big fan of soccer2.
Statement: Joe is1 a big fan of soccer2.
Yes/No Question: Is1 Joe (1) a big fan of soccer2?
WH Question: What2 is1 Joe (1) a big fan of (2)?
WH Question: What2's1 Joe (1) a big fan of (2)?

Statement: Joe watches1 sports2 on TV every night.
Statement: Joe does1 watch sports2 on TV every night.
Yes/No Question: Does1 Joe (1) watch sports2 on TV every night?
WH Question: What2 does1 Joe (1) watch (2) on TV every night?

Statement: Joe watches1 sports2 on TV every night.
Statement: Joe does1 watch sports2 on TV every night.
Yes/No Question: Does1 Joe (1) watch sports2 on TV every night?
WH Question: What2 does1 Joe (1) watch (2) on TV every night?

Statement: The Smiths watch1 sports2 on TV every night.
Statement: The Smiths do1 watch sports2 on TV every night.
Yes/No Question: Do1 the Smiths (1) watch sports2 on TV every night?
WH Question: What2 do1 the Smiths (1) watch (2) on TV every night?

Statement: Joe watched1 sports2 on TV last night.
Statement: Joe did1 watch sports2 on TV last night.
Yes/No Question: Did1 Joe (1) watch sports2 on TV last night?
WH Question: What2 did1 Joe (1) watch (2) on TV last night?

Statement: Joe watched1 sports on TV last night2.
Statement: Joe did1 watch sports on TV last night2.
Yes/No Question: Did1 Joe (1) watch sports on TV last night2?
WH Question: When2 did1 Joe (1) watch sports on TV (2)?

Statement: Joe watched1 sports on TV2 last night.
Statement: Joe did1 watch sports on TV2 last night.
Yes/No Question: Did1 Joe (1) watch sports on TV2 last night?
WH Question: How2 did1 Joe (1) watch sports (2) last night?

Statement: Joe2 watched1 sports on TV last night.
Statement: Joe2 did1 watch sports on TV last night.
Yes/No Question: Did1 Joe2 (1) watch sports on TV last night?
WH Question: Who2 did1 (2) (1) watch sports on TV last night?
WH Question: Who2 (2) (1) watched1 sports on TV last night?

Notice that sequences like 'did watch' are not normal even in questions unless you put stress on 'did'. Any questions?

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