What Verbs Are Used to Form "What" WH-Questions?

In this article, we explore the various types of verbs that can be used to form "What" WH-questions in English. We provide examples of action verbs, linking verbs, modal verbs, and auxiliary verbs, and discuss how verb tense and verb forms can affect the meaning of a "What" question. Additionally, we offer some tips for avoiding common mistakes and effectively using verbs to form "What" WH-questions in English.
Mohammed Wasim Akram
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Last Updated: December 29, 2022
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"What" is a pronoun used to ask questions about people, things, or concepts in English. To form a complete and grammatically correct question with "What," it is often necessary to use a verb.

Verbs are an essential part of the English language and play a crucial role in expressing actions, states of being, and other concepts.

There are several types of verbs that can be used with "What," including action verbs, linking verbs, modal verbs, and auxiliary verbs. These verbs can be used to ask questions about various topics, including actions, states of being, and conditions.

Examples of "What" questions using different types of verbs include:

  • Action Verbs: "What did you do?" (action verb: "did")
  • Linking Verbs: "What is your favorite color?" (linking verb: "is")
  • Auxiliary Verbs: "What were you thinking?" (auxiliary verb: "were")
  • Modal Verbs: "What can you do?" (modal verb: "can")

In addition to these common verb types, there are also many other verbs that can be used with "What" to form questions. However, in this article, we will only discuss the common verbs and if you want to learn more then keep reading this article.

Action Verbs for Forming 'What' Questions

In this section, we will explore the various action verbs that can be used to ask 'What' questions in different tenses and contexts. Each verb will be accompanied by examples to illustrate its usage and meaning.

Understanding how to use action verbs effectively in 'What' questions can help you communicate more clearly and effectively in English.

Action Verbs for Present, Past, & Future Tenses:

Do, Did, Will: These verbs are used to ask about someone's actions or plans in the present, past, or future.

Examples:

  • What do you do? (present simple tense, asking about someone's job or occupation)
  • What did you do? (past simple tense, asking about a past action or event)
  • What will you do? (future simple tense, asking about a future action or plan)

Have, Has, Had: These verbs are used to ask about someone's possessions or belongings, as well as their ownership or acquisition of certain items.

Examples:

  • What do you have? (asking about someone's possessions)
  • What has he got? (asking about someone's possessions)
  • What had you got? (asking about someone's possessions in the past)

Be, Am, Is, Are, Was, Were: These verbs are used to ask about someone's identity, role, or characteristics, as well as their presence or absence.

Examples:

  • What are you? (asking about someone's identity or role)
  • What am I? (asking about one's own identity or role)
  • What is he? (asking about someone else's identity or role)
  • What are they? (asking about a group's identity or role)
  • What was she? (asking about someone's identity or role in the past)
  • What were you? (asking about someone's identity or role in the past)

I hope these examples have helped you understand the different action verbs you can use to form 'What' questions, as well as the different tenses and meanings of those verbs.

By using action verbs effectively in 'What' questions, you can communicate more clearly and effectively in English.

Linking Verbs to Form "What" WH Questions

Linking verbs are a type of verb that connects the subject of a sentence to a subject complement, which is a noun or adjective that renames or describes the subject.

Linking verbs do not express action like action verbs do; instead, they function to link the subject of the sentence to additional information about the subject.

Here are some examples of "What" WH questions that use each of the linking verbs:

Be (Is, Am, Are, Was, Were): The verb "be" (in its various forms "is," "am," "are," "was," and "were") is a linking verb that is used to connect the subject of a sentence to a subject complement.

Examples:

  • What is he? (asking about someone's identity or role)
  • What am I? (asking about one's own identity or role)
  • What are you? (asking about someone's identity or role)
  • What was he? (asking about someone's past identity or role)
  • What were you? (asking about someone's past identity or role)

Seem: "Seem" can be used to form questions by asking about the cause of a problem or the appearance of something.

Examples:

  • What seems to be the problem? (asking about the cause of a problem)
  • What seems to be the issue? (asking about the cause of a problem)

Appear: "Appear" can be used to form questions by asking about the cause of a problem or the appearance of something.

Examples:

  • What appears to be the problem? (asking about the cause of a problem)
  • What appears to be the issue? (asking about the cause of a problem)

Become: "Become" can be used to form questions by asking about someone's transformation or change.

Examples:

  • What has he become? (asking about someone's transformation or change)
  • What have you become? (asking about someone's transformation or change)
  • What will he become? (asking about someone's future transformation or change)
  • What will you become? (asking about someone's future transformation or change)

I hope these examples are helpful in demonstrating how each of these linking verbs can be used to form "What" WH questions.

Auxiliary Verbs to Form "What" WH-Questions

Auxiliary verbs are a type of verb that are used to form verb tenses, moods, or voices in a sentence. They are also known as "helping verbs" because they help to form the main verb in a sentence.

Auxiliary verbs can be used to form "What" WH questions that ask about the verb tense, mood, or voice of a sentence.

Here are some examples of "What" WH questions that use each of the auxiliary verbs:

Do, Did, Will: These auxiliary verbs are used to form questions and statements in the present, past, and future tense.

  • What do you do? (present simple tense, asking about someone's job or occupation)
  • What did you do? (past simple tense, asking about a past action or event)
  • What will you do? (future simple tense, asking about a future action or plan)

Have, Has, Had: These auxiliary verbs are used to form questions and statements in the present, past, and future perfect tense.

  • What have you done? (present perfect tense, asking about an action that was completed in the past and has an effect on the present)
  • What had you done? (past perfect tense, asking about an action that was completed before a past event or time)
  • What will have you done? (future perfect tense, asking about an action that will be completed before a future event or time)

Be, Being, Been: These auxiliary verbs are used to form questions and statements in the present, present continuous, and past continuous tense.

  • What are you doing? (present continuous tense, asking about an action that is happening at the moment of speaking)
  • What were you doing? (past continuous tense, asking about an action that was happening at a specific time in the past)

I hope these examples are helpful in demonstrating how each of these auxiliary verbs can be used to form "What" WH questions.

Modal Verbs to Form "What" WH-Questions

Modal verbs are a type of auxiliary verbs that express modality, which refers to the ability, possibility, necessity, or obligation of action.

Modal verbs are used to modify the meaning of the main verb, and they can be used to form "What" WH questions that ask about someone's abilities, options, or preferences.

Here are some examples of "What" WH questions that use each of the modal verbs:

Can: "Can" is used to express the ability to do something in the present tense.

Examples:

  • What can you do? (asking about someone's current abilities or skills)
  • What can he do? (asking about someone else's current abilities or skills)

Could: "Could" is used to express the ability to do something in the past tense, or something that is possible but uncertain.

Examples:

  • What could you do? (asking about something that was possible or is possible in the past)
  • What could he do? (asking about something that was possible or is possible in the past for someone else)

Might: "Might" is used to expressing the possibility or uncertainty of something.

Examples:

  • What might you do? (asking about something that is possible or uncertain)
  • What might he do? (asking about something that is possible or uncertain for someone else)

Must: "Must" is used to express necessity or obligation.

Examples:

  • What must you do? (asking about something that is necessary or required)
  • What must he do? (asking about something that is necessary or required for someone else)

Should: "Should" is used to express advice or recommendations.

  • Examples: What should you do? (asking for advice or recommendations)
  • What should he do? (asking for advice or recommendations for someone else)

Would: "Would" is used to express a hypothetical or imagined situation.

Examples:

  • What would you do? (asking about a hypothetical or imagined situation)
  • What would he do? (asking about a hypothetical or imagined situation for someone else)

I hope these examples are helpful in demonstrating how each of these modal verbs can be used to form "What" WH questions.

FAQs for Verbs & “What” WH-Questions

Here are some potential FAQs for the topic of "What Verbs Are Used to Form 'What' WH-Questions?":

What is the purpose of using verbs in u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions?

Verbs are used in u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions to express the action or state of being inquired about. They are an essential part of the structure of the question, as they provide the necessary information about the subject of the question.

What are some common types of verbs that can be used in u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions?

Some common types of verbs that can be used in u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions include action verbs, linking verbs, modal verbs, and auxiliary verbs.

Can any verb be used in a u0022Whatu0022 WH-question?

Not all verbs can be used in u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions. Some verbs, such as intransitive verbs (which do not have a direct object) or linking verbs (which do not express action), are not typically used in u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions.

What is the difference between action verbs, linking verbs, modal verbs, and auxiliary verbs?

Action verbs express action or a state of being. Linking verbs connect the subject of a sentence to a subject complement and do not express action.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eModal verbs express possibility, necessity, or obligation and are used to modify the meaning of the main verb. Auxiliary verbs, also known as helping verbs, are used with main verbs to form verb tenses or to provide additional meaning.

Can u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions be formed with more than one verb?

Yes, it is possible to form u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions with more than one verb. For example, u0022What should you have done?u0022 uses the auxiliary verb u0022shouldu0022 and the main verb u0022have done.u0022u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIt is important to ensure that the verb tenses are used correctly in multi-verb u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions.

How do I know which verb to use when forming a “What” WH-question?

The verb you use when forming a “What” WH-question will depend on the type of information you are asking for.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eAction verbs are used to ask about actions or states of being, linking verbs are used to ask about conditions or qualities, modal verbs are used to ask about possibility, necessity, or obligation, and auxiliary verbs are used to make the main verb stronger or weaker.

How do verb tense and verb forms (such as past simple, present simple, future simple, etc.) affect the meaning of a u0022Whatu0022 WH-question?

Verb tense and verb forms can affect the meaning of a u0022Whatu0022 WH-question by indicating the time frame in which the action or state being referred to takes place.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eFor example, using the present simple verb tense (e.g. u0022dou0022) indicates that the action or state is occurring in the present, while using the past simple verb tense (e.g. u0022didu0022) indicates that the action or state occurred in the past, and using the future simple verb tense (e.g. u0022will dou0022) indicates that the action or state will occur in the future.

Are there any common mistakes or pitfalls to avoid when forming u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions?

Some common mistakes to avoid when forming u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions include using the wrong verb tense or verb form, using a verb that is not appropriate for the context or the intended meaning, and forgetting to invert the verb and u0022Whatu0022 when forming the question.

Are there any other useful tips or strategies for effectively using verbs to form u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions in English?

Some useful tips for effectively using verbs to form u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions in English include carefully considering the intended meaning and context of the question, choosing the appropriate verb tense or form based on the time frame being referred to, and practicing forming u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions with different verbs and verb tenses to improve your accuracy and fluency.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eAdditionally, it can be helpful to pay attention to the verb tense and form used in the answers to u0022Whatu0022 WH-questions, as this can provide clues about the intended meaning and context of the question.

Conclusion

Understanding the different types of verbs that can be used with "What" can help you improve your communication skills and enable you to ask clear and concise questions in the English language.

With practice and familiarity, you will become more comfortable using these verbs and will be able to form questions with "What" with ease.

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Article Author
Mohammed Wasim Akram
Hello myself Wasim, I’m from the city of Mother Teresa Calcutta (currently Kolkata), which exists in India, a country of unity in diversity.I belong to the sales and marketing field with 10+ years of experience. In December of 2017, I switched my career from a 9 to 5 traditional job to the digital entrepreneurship.Currently, I am a Google and HubSpot certified Digital Marketer, a WordPress Specialist, Web Designer & Strategist and the founder of SyncWin.
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