Monday, December 13, 2010

Common Error: Question Word Order

This will be the first in a series of tips on dealing with common errors in English. I chose this one --Question Word Order-- because it's one of my students' most common mistakes, but it's also one of the simplest to identify and correct, if you pay attention to what you say:

Common Error: Question Word Order!

DON’T say this:
Why you were absent last Friday?
When she’s coming on Friday?
How you can correct these mistakes?
Where you are?
You are his brother?
WHY?-In questions beginning with words like what, when, where, why, and how, put the verb before the subject like in most questions.
-Use auxiliaries like do/did as necessary.
-Your question may still be understandable with the wrong word order, but it will immediately sound wrong.
INSTEAD, SAY THIS:Why were you absent last Friday?
When is she coming on Friday?
How can you correct these mistakes?
Where are you?
Are you his brother?

So there you have it. I developed this tip and many others at my previous job, and my students there said the tips were helpful. If you have any comments or suggestions, I'd love to hear feedback from you!

Good luck!


  1. Why you always making fun of my english?

  2. Because you're a native speaker and you still don't capitalize "English." :)

    And because I "care."


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