2. Reading – Basic Formal Categories

For the rest of this lesson, we’re going to be working with the text which is linked below. Please open the link and read the foreword and the five ‘Basic Formal Categories’ (down to ‘Tag Question’).


a. In which category or categories are the following questions?

  • (i) What’s in your bag?
  • (ii) What kind of bird is that?
  • (iii) Do you love me?
  • (iv) We can afford this car, can’t we?
  • (v) That wasn’t what I asked you, was it?
  • (vi) What would you like to change about yourself, and why?
  • (vii) Tea?
  • (viii) You don’t want any more tea, do you – or do you?
  • (ix) You don’t think it’s a good idea?
  • (x) What’s the past participle of ‘forget’?

Answers: here.

b. Discuss with a partner:

  • (i) Is “Are you satisfied with your life right now” a good example of a yes/no question?
  • (ii) How many answers are possible to “Would you like tea or coffee?”
  • (iii) What are the possible answers to “You don’t want any more tea, do you?”
  • (iv) Do all of these types of questions exist in your language too?
  • (v) Which of these question types are likely to be used most often:-
    • between family members?
    • on a first date?
    • in English class?

c. Look again at the example questions in part 2a, above. Get together with a partner and choose three of these. Create three (separate) short dialogues around these questions.