Yes or No Questions

There are several types of questions one can form depending on the type of information being requested. If a simple yes or no is all that is necessary to answer a question, it is aptly called a “yes or no question.” When more information is required, a specific question word is necessary to elicit the desired response.

The simplest questions to create in Spanish are yes or no questions. They are actually much simpler in Spanish than they are in English. Consider the sentence, “Johnny speaks Italian.” How would you make an English yes or no question out of it? You put the word “does” in front and change the form of the verb speak.

           Does Johnny speak Italian?

                  (1)

Of course, you already know how to make a sentence into a question in English, but it's helpful to realize that part of what you do to make a question is switch the subject with a part of the verb.

Most people struggle when they try to write a yes or no question in Spanish, because they stumble over the first word of the question in English: Yes or no questions usually start with either do or does. This word does not translate in a Spanish question because there is no need for a helping verb to create a question. The Spanish language creates questions by simply switching the subject and verb. As soon as you see a question starting with do or does in English, you will need to apply a simple three‐step process to create the Spanish equivalent.

  1. Remove the “do” or “does” from the English question.
      
  2. Translate the remaining sentence into Spanish, carefully conjugating the verb to match the subject.

  3. Switch the subject with the verb, and add the question marks.

Now, use that three‐step process to change an English question into a Spanish question. Here's the English example:

                       Do I study a lot?

                              (2)

Here's how the process is broken down step by step:

         1.Remove the “do” or “does” from the English question.

               I study a lot.

         2.Translate the remaining sentence into Spanish, carefully conjugating the verb to match the subject.

               Yo estudio mucho.

         3.Switch the subject with the verb, and add the question marks.

                ¿ Estudio yo mucho?

Here's another example:

           Does she need a friend?

             (3)

And, here is the step‐by‐step translation:

        1.Remove the “do” or “does” from the English question.

           She needs a friend.

       2.Translate the remaining sentence into Spanish, carefully conjugating the verb to match the subject.

            Ella necesita una amiga.

       3.Switch the subject with the verb, and add the question marks.

            ¿ Necesita ella una amiga?

In a Spanish question, the verb is placed in front of the subject. You may have heard new learners of English mistakenly create questions like, “Speak you Spanish?” because they are incorrectly applying the rules of their language to English. When you get used to creating questions in Spanish, you will learn to appreciate their simplicity.