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Subject and Object Questions

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Asking direct questions is usually one of the more difficult tasks for learners of English. This is principally due to the fact that English inverts its subject and auxiliary verb in the interrogative form. Once this standard structure is learned, students need to also master the subject question. The following lower-intermediate to intermediate lesson focuses on helping students learn to recognize and employ both types of direct questions.

Aim: Asking direct subject questions, recognizing the difference between subject and object questions

Activity: Jumbled questions followed by question pair work employing both subject and object questions with "who", "what" and "which"

Level: Lower-intermediate to intermediate

Outline:

  • Activate student knowledge of asking questions by having students ask each other questions in class.
  • If necessary, quickly go over standard question structure (? word auxiliary verb subject principle ver B) on the board in a variety of tenses. Remember to point out that the verb "to be" is an exception.
  • Write a subject question such as: Who married Tom? on the board. Ask students why this question doesn't follow the standard format.
  • Discuss the difference between a subject and object question with students. Make sure to include examples with "who", "what" and "which".
  • Put students in pairs or small groups and ask them to complete the jumbled questions.
  • Correct the exercise in class making sure that students have understood the difference between subject and object questions.
  • Have students pair up and give each pair a "Student A" and "Student B" sheet.
  • Have students complete sheets asking each other for any missing information.
  • To follow-up ask students to write a number of subject and object questions as homework.
Asking Questions

Put the following words in order to make a question. Remember to conjugate the verbs and add an auxiliary verb if required.

  1. he/who/visit/last week/
  2. which/car/kind of/300 k.p.h/go
  3. him/invite/who/dinner/to/yesterday
  4. what/you/tv/buy
  5. book/they/read/which/for/class
  6. who/ask/question/the

Ask your partner questions to fill in the missing information Student A

_____ (who) bought a new car last week. It is a beautiful new Cadillac. He bought the car because __________ (why). My father has driven a Cadillac for many years. _____ (who) says it's the kind of car that people respect. In fact, _______ (who) have always driven Cadillacs. I remember that ________ (who) used to drive a Cadillac. When my _____ (who) first met Elvis, he saw that he was driving a ________ (what). It was then that my father decided to buy a _______ (what). Student B

My Father bought a ______ (what) last week. It is a beautiful new _______ (what kind of car). He bought the car because he says it's the best car in the world. _____ (who) has driven a Cadillac for many years. My father says it's the kind of car that ________ (what kind of car). In fact, rich and famous people have always driven _____ (what). I remember that Elvis Presley used to drive a _____ (what). When my father first met _____ (who), he saw that he was driving a pink Cadillac. It was then that _________ (who) decided to buy a Cadillac.

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