Wh-questions begin with what, when, where, who, whom, which, whose, why and how. We use them to ask for information. The answer cannot be yes or no:
Whendo you finish college?
Whois your favourite actor?
George Clooney for sure!
With an auxiliary verb
We usually form wh-questions with wh- + an auxiliary verb (be, do or have) + subject + main verb or with wh- + a modal verb + subject + main verb:
Be: When are you leaving?
Who’sbeen paying the bills?
Do: Where do they live?
Why didn’t you call me?
Have: What has she done now?
What have they decided?
Modal: Who would she stay with?
Where should I park?
Without an auxiliary verb
When what, who, which or whose is the subject or part of the subject, we do not use the auxiliary. We use the word order subject + verb:
What fell off the wall? Which horse won?
Who bought this? Whose phone rang?
Who owns this bag?
Who is the subject of the sentence and this bag is the object. We use no auxiliary verb.
Who do you love most?
Who is the object of the sentence and you is the subject. We use the auxiliary verb do.
Responding to wh-questions
Wh-questions ask for information and we do not expect a yes-no answer to a wh-question. We expect an answer which gives information:
Where’s the coffee machine? (We expect an answer about the location of the coffee machine.)
It’s in the room next to the reception.
How old is your dog? (We expect an answer about the age of the dog.)
She’s about five. I’m not very sure.
Adding emphasis to wh-questions
We can add emphasis to wh-questions in speaking by stressing the auxiliary verb do. We usually do this when we have not already received the information that we expected from an earlier question, or to show strong interest.
When the wh-word is the object of the sentence, the do auxiliary is stressed to make it more emphatic:
How was your weekend in Edinburgh?
I didn’t go to Edinburgh.
Really. Wheredidyou go?
We decided to go to Glasgow instead.
When the wh-word is the subject of the sentence, we can add the auxiliary do to make it emphatic. We stress do:
Ronald Price lives in that house, doesn’t he?
No. He moved out.
So whodoeslive there? (non-emphatic question: So who lives there?)