A question is a linguistic expression used to make a request for information, or the request made using such an expression. The information requested is provided in the form of an answer. Questions have developed a range of uses that go beyond the simple eliciting of information from another party. Rhetorical questions, for example, are used to make a point, and are not expected to be answered. Many languages have special grammatical forms for questions (for example, in the English sentence "Are you happy?", the inversion of the subject you and the verb are shows it to be a question rather than a statement). However, questions can also be asked without using these interrogative grammatical structures – for example one may use an imperative, as in "Tell me your name".
1.1 By purpose 1.2 By grammatical form
2 Grammar 3 Responses 4 Learning 5 Philosophy 6 Origins 7 See also 8 References 9 Further reading
Jonathan Dimbleby questioning - BBC World Service
The principal use of questions is to elicit information from the
person being addressed by indicating the information which the speaker
(or writer) desires. However, questions can also be used for a number
of other purposes. Questions may be asked for the purpose of testing
someone's knowledge, as in a quiz or examination. Raising a question
may guide the questioner along an avenue of research (see Socratic
A research question is an interrogative statement that manifests the
objective or line of scholarly or scientific inquiry designed to
address a specific gap in knowledge.
descriptive questions, used primarily with the aim of describing the existence of some thing or process relational questions, designed to look at the relationships between two or more variables causal questions, designed to determine whether certain variables affect one or more outcome variables
For the purpose of surveys, one type of question asked is the
closed-ended (also closed or dichotomous) question, usually requiring
a yes/no answer or the choice of an option(s) from a list (see also
multiple choice). There are also nominal questions, designed to
inquire about a level of quantitative measure, usually making
connections between a number and a concept (as in "1 = Moderate; 2 =
Severe; 3 = ..."). Open-ended or open questions give the respondent
greater freedom to provide information or opinions on a topic. (The
distinction between closed and open questions is applied in a variety
of other contexts too, such as job interviewing.) Surveys also often
contain qualifying questions (also called filter questions or
contingency questions), which serve to determine whether the
respondent needs to continue on to answer subsequent questions.
Some types of questions that may be used in an educational context are
Knowledge: Who, what, when, where, why, how . . . ? Describe . . . ? Comprehension: Retell . . . Application: How is . . . an example of . . . ?; How is . . . related to . . . ?; Why is . . . significant? Analysis: What are the parts or features of . . . ? Classify . . . according to . . . ; Synthesis: What would you infer from . . . ? What ideas can you add to . . . ? How would you design a new . . . ? What would happen if you combined . . . ? What solutions would you suggest for . . . ? Evaluation: Do you agree that . . . ? What do you think about . . . ? What is the most important . . . ? Place the following in order of priority . . . ? How would you decide about . . . ? What criteria would you use to assess . . . ? 
McKenzie's "Questioning Toolkit" lists 17 types of questions, and suggests that thinkers need to orchestrate and combine these types. Examples of these question types include the irreverent question, the apparently irrelevant question, the hypothetical question and the unanswerable question. Questions can also be infelicitous, being based on incorrect and illogical premises (e.g. "Why do cats have green wings?"). Strategic studies also took into consideration the questioning process. In Humint (Human Intelligence), a taxonomy of questions includes:
Direct questions: basic questions normally beginning with an interrogative (who, what, where, when, how, or why) and requiring a narrative answer. They are brief, precise, and simply worded to avoid confusion. Initial questions: directed toward obtaining the basic information on the topic. In other words, they are the “who, what, where, when, how, and why” of each topic. Follow-up questions: used to expand on and complete the information obtained from the initial questions. Nonpertinent questions: questions that do not pertain to the collection objectives. They are used to conceal the collection objectives or to strengthen rapport with the source. Repeat questions: ask the source for the same information obtained in response to earlier questions. Control questions: developed from recently confirmed information from other sources that is not likely to have changed. Prepared questions developed by the HUMINT collector, normally in writing, prior to the questioning. Prepared questions: used primarily when dealing with information of a technical nature or specific topic. Negative questions: questions that contain a negative word in the question itself such as, "Didn’t you go to the pick-up point?” Compound questions: consist of two questions asked at the same time; for example, “Where were you going after work and who were you to meet there?” Vague questions: do not have enough information for the source to understand exactly what the HUMINT collector is asking. They may be incomplete, general, or otherwise nonspecific. Elicitation: is the gaining of information through direct interaction with a human source where the source is not aware of the specific purpose for the conversation.
By grammatical form 
Questions that ask whether or not some statement is true are called
yes–no questions (or polar questions, or general questions),
since they can in principle be answered by a "yes" or "no" (or similar
words or expressions in other languages). Examples include "Do you
take sugar?", "Should they be believed?" and "Am I the loneliest
person in the world?"
A type of question that is similar in form to a yes–no question, but
is not intended to be answered with a "yes" or "no", is the
alternative question (or choice question). This presents two or
more alternative answers, as in "Do you want fish or lamb?", or "Are
you supporting England, Ireland or Wales?" The expected response is
one of the alternatives, or some other indication such as "both" or
"neither" (questionnaire forms sometimes contain an option "none of
the above" or similar for such questions). Because of their similarity
in form to yes–no questions, they may sometimes be answered "yes" or
"no", possibly humorously or as a result of misunderstanding.
The other main type of question (other than yes–no questions) is
those called wh-questions (or non-polar questions, or special
questions). These use interrogative words (wh-words) such as when,
which, who, how, etc. to specify the information that is desired. (In
some languages the formation of such questions may involve wh-movement
– see the section below for grammatical description.) The name
derives from the fact that most of the English interrogative words
(with the exception of how) begin with the letters wh. These are the
types of question sometimes referred to in journalism and other
investigative contexts as the Five Ws.
Tag questions are a grammatical structure in which a declarative
statement or an imperative is turned into a question by adding an
interrogative fragment (the "tag"), such as right in "You remembered
the eggs, right?", or isn't it in "It's cold today, isn't it?" Tag
questions may or may not be answerable with a yes or no.
As well as direct questions (such as Where are my keys?), there also
exist indirect questions (also called interrogative content clauses),
such as where my keys are. These are used as subordinate clauses in
sentences such as "I wonder where my keys are" and "Ask him where my
keys are." Indirect questions do not necessarily follow the same rules
of grammar as direct questions. For example, in English and some
other languages, indirect questions are formed without inversion of
subject and verb (compare the word order in "where are they?" and "(I
wonder) where they are"). Indirect questions may also be subject to
the changes of tense and other changes that apply generally to
Main article: Interrogative
Languages may use both syntax and prosody to distinguish interrogative
sentences (which pose questions) from declarative sentences (which
Syntax refers to grammatical changes, such as
moving words around or adding question words; prosody refers here to
changes in intonation while speaking.
In English, German, French and various other languages, questions are
marked by a distinct word order featuring inversion – the subject is
placed after the verb rather than before it: "You are cold" becomes
"Are you cold?" However, English allows such inversion only with a
particular class of verbs (called auxiliary or special verbs), and
thus sometimes requires the addition of an auxiliary do, does or did
before inversion can take place ("He sings" → "Does he sing?") –
for details see do-support.
In some languages, yes–no questions are marked by an interrogative
particle, such as the Japanese か ka, Mandarin 吗 ma and Polish czy.
Also, in languages generally, wh-questions are marked by an
interrogative word (wh-word) such as what, where or how. In languages
such as English this word generally moves to the front of the sentence
(wh-fronting), and subject–verb inversion occurs as in yes–no
questions, but in some other languages these changes in word order are
not necessary (e.g. Mandarin 你要什么？ nǐ yào shénme, meaning
"what do you want?" is literally "you want what?").
Intonation patterns characteristic of questions often involve a raised
pitch near the end of the sentence. In English this occurs especially
for yes–no questions; it may also be used for sentences that do not
have the grammatical form of questions, but are nonetheless intended
to elicit information (declarative questions), as in "You're not using
In languages written in Latin, Cyrillic or certain other scripts, a
question mark at the end of a sentence identifies questions in
writing. (In Spanish an additional inverted mark is placed at the
beginning: ¿Cómo está usted? "How are you?") As with intonation,
this feature is not restricted to sentences having the grammatical
form of questions – it may also indicate a sentence's pragmatic
The most typical response to a question is an answer that provides the
information indicated as being sought by the questioner. This may
range from a simple yes or no (in the case of yes–no questions) to a
more complex or detailed answer. (An answer may be correct or
incorrect, depending on whether the information it presents is true or
false.) An indication of inability or unwillingness to provide an
answer is the other response to a question.
"Negative questions" are interrogative sentences which contain
negation in their phrasing, such as "Shouldn't you be working?" These
can have different ways of expressing affirmation and denial from the
standard form of question, and they can be confusing, since it is
sometimes unclear whether the answer should be the opposite of the
answer to the non-negated question. For example, if one does not have
a passport, both "Do you have a passport?" and "Don't you have a
passport?" are properly answered with "No", despite apparently asking
opposite questions. The Japanese and Korean languages avoid this
ambiguity. Answering "No" to the second of these in Japanese or Korean
would mean, "I do have a passport".
A similar ambiguous question in English is "Do you mind if...?" The
responder may reply unambiguously "Yes, I do mind," if they do mind,
or "No, I don't mind," if they don't, but a simple "No" or "Yes"
answer can lead to confusion, as a single "No" can seem like a "Yes, I
do mind" (as in "No, please don't do that"), and a "Yes" can seem like
a "No, I don't mind" (as in "Yes, go ahead"). An easy way to bypass
this confusion would be to ask a non-negative question, such as "Is it
all right with you if...?"
Some languages have different particles (for example the French "si",
the German "doch" or the Danish and Norwegian "jo") to answer negative
questions (or negative statements) in an affirmative way; they provide
a means to express contradiction.
More information on these issues can be found in the articles yes–no
question, yes and no, and answer ellipsis.
Questions are used from the most elementary stage of learning to
original research. In the scientific method, a question often forms
the basis of the investigation and can be considered a transition
between the observation and hypothesis stages. Students of all ages
use questions in their learning of topics, and the skill of having
learners creating "investigatable" questions is a central part of
inquiry education. The
No such thing as a stupid question
^ Source for quotation Archived February 10, 2006, at the Wayback
Look up question in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Question
Berti, Enrico, Soggetti di responsabilita: questioni di filosofia
pratica, Reggio Emilia, 1993.
C. L. Hamblin, "Questions", in: Paul Edwards (ed.), Encyclopedia of
Georg Stahl, "Un développement de la logique des questions", in:
Revue Philosophique de la France et de l'Etranger 88 (1963), 293-301.
Fieser, James, Lillegard, Norman (eds), Philosophical questions:
readings and interactive guides, 2005.
McKenzie, Jamie, Leading questions: From Now On: The Educational
Technology Journal, 2007.
McKenzie, Jamie, Learning to question to wonder to learn, From Now On:
The Educational Technology Journal, 2005.
McKenzie, Jamie, "The