When is a question not a question? When it’s a statement.
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 have a form right after “how,” but it’s the infinitive form, so the group of words does not create 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 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.