American Grammar Checkup: Traps for the Unwary, Part 1
When is a question not a question? When it’s a statement.
It’s Monday, and the American Grammar Checkup series is back, thanks to what I'm seeing on posts all across many social media platforms.
Although many writers use English well, some are falling into some common traps that they may not be aware of. And sometimes I think it’s because the word order in English is often different from that of other languages . . . but it’s usually critical for creating grammatically correct English sentences and full understanding.
Today’s focus is on how to form questions in English (and that group of words is not a question, even though it includes the word “how”) – especially with titles of posts.
I have seen many post titles recently that look like the ones below:
Why we should write our goals down?
How I plan my day to include everything?
What you are saying to yourself without realizing it?
Where you find your best ideas?
How to form questions in English?
Just starting a group of words with “how” or “why” doesn’t automatically make the group of words a question in English.
In the first four examples, the word order is wrong for each to be a question. Usually a verb will follow “how” or “why” to make the entire group of words a question.
NO: Why we should write our goals down?
YES: Why we should write our goals down
YES: Why should we write our goals down?
NO: How I plan my day to include everything?
YES: How I plan my day to include everything
YES: How can I plan my day to include everything?
NO: What you are saying to yourself without realizing it?
YES: What you are saying to yourself without realizing it
YES: What are you saying to yourself without realizing it?
NO: Where you find your best ideas?
YES: Where you find your best ideas
YES: Where do you find your best ideas?
Writing the words without any end mark of punctuation is fine when you’re writing the title of your post if the words are not a complete sentence.
The one time using a verb after “how” or “why” does not make the words a question is when we use the infinitive form (the one that starts with “to”).
How to form questions in English does include a verb right after "how," but it’s the infinitive form, so the group of words is not a question. If you want to turn those words into a question, they need to be something like “How should / do / can we form questions in English?”
Another simple way to form a question in English is to start with the verb!
Do you want more cake?
Can I help you?
Does all this make sense?
Remember, my knowledge is strictly about English – specifically, American English and grammar. While I did take four years of French and Latin in high school, and I can understand a little written French, Spanish, and Italian, I have forgotten 99% of what I was taught.
Does this post help?
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you learned something, I hope you will . . .
Find it relevant and/or share it, so your connections can see it and perhaps learn too.
Comment, so you can be seen by my connections. You never know who would be interested in YOU! (Ask Deb Helfrich how well it worked for her!)
Do the associates in your company look and sound as smart as they are? They would if they could take one of my Brush Up on Your Skills workshops right where they work. If your company hires outside experts to teach any topic to its associates, I would appreciate your sharing my posts and website with your Human Resources or Training Manager.
Are you a member of an association or other group that is looking for a speaker for one of its meetings? There are many communication-based topics that would create a lighthearted and interesting presentation.
I often buy frozen “dinners” because it’s easier than cooking for just one person. They keep well in ...
Do you remember being a kid and wanting to grow up and know everything about everything, the way so ...
You may be interested in these jobs
Found in: Indeed US - 4 days ago
Helpmates Staffing Services Compton Full Time
Now Hiring Full time Stand up Reach Driver's for warehouse in the city of Compton · 6pm-230am · Pay rate Info: · $19/hr-$20/hr + OT · Reach Forklift Operator RESPONSIBILITIES: · \*\*\* Must be okay w other duties: scanning/picking\*\*\ · Receiving Cargo · Working in fast paced en ...
Found in: Linkedin WW - 6 days ago
Selby Jennings Boston, MA,
Company Summary: A newly-formed private equity firm in Boston (2bn AUM) is looking to add a Vice President to their team The fund focuses on investments across vertical software, tech-enabled services, digital software, healthcare IT, edtech and more. · The VP will be responsible ...
Found in: Linkedin WW - 6 days ago
Immanuel Windsor Heights, IA,
Immanuel Pathways PACE in Windsor Heights, IA is seeking a Primary Care Provider NP. · This position comes with an excellent compensation and benefits package. · Immanuel's benefits package includes: · Medical, dental, and vision · PTO - accruing from day one of employment · 2 Fl ...