The Full Wiki

question: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


There are these four ways of answering questions. Which four? There are questions that should be answered categorically [straightforwardly yes, no, this, that]. There are questions that should be answered with an analytical (qualified) answer [defining or redefining the terms]. There are questions that should be answered with a counter-question. There are questions that should be put aside. These are the four ways of answering questions.

Buddha, Source

A question may be either a linguistic expression used to make a request for information, or else the request itself made by such an expression. This information is provided with an answer.

Questions are normally put forward or asked using interrogative sentences. However they can also be put by imperative sentences, which normally express commands: "Tell me what two plus two is"; conversely, some expressions, such as "Would you pass the salt?", have the grammatical form of questions but actually function as requests for action, not for answers, making them allofunctional. (A phrase such as this could, theoretically, also be viewed not merely as a request but as an observation of the other person's desire to comply with the request given.)


Varieties of questions

Questions have a number of uses. 'Raising a question' may guide the questioner along an avenue of research (see Socratic method). A rhetorical question is asked in order to make a point, and does not expect an answer (often the answer is implied or obvious). Pre-suppositional questions, such as "Have you stopped beating your wife?" may be used as a joke or to embarrass an audience, because any answer a person could give would imply more information than he was willing to affirm. Questions can also be titles of works of art and literature (e.g. Leo Tolstoy's short story How Much Land Does a Man Need? and the movie What About Bob?). McKenzie lists 17 types of questions in his "Questioning Toolkit" and suggests that thinkers must orchestrate and combine these types in his article "Punchy Question Combinations". Examples of his question types include the irreverent question, the apparently irrelevant question, the hypothetical question and the unanswerable question.


In research projects

  1. Descriptive question, used primarily to describe the existence of some thing or process.
  2. Relational question, designed to look at the relationships between two or more variables.
  3. Causal question, designed to determine whether one or more variables causes or affects one or more outcome variables.[1]

In surveys

  1. Dichotomous questions, usually these questions require yes/no answers or require a person to answer by choosing an option(s) from a multiple choice of possible answers.
  2. Nominal questions, these types of questions are designed to inquire about a level of quantitative measure. Usually these questions form correlations between a number and a concept. For example:
Occupational Class: 1= Moderate 2= Severe 3= etc. [2]
  1. Qualifying questions (also called filter questions, or contingency questions) These types of questions are designed to determine if the individual answering the question needs to continue on to answer subsequent questions.

Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (Categories of questions)

  • Knowledge
    who, what, when, where, why, how..? Describe...?
  • Comprehension
  • Application
    How 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...? [3]


Languages may use both syntax and prosody to distinguish interrogative sentences (which pose questions) from declarative sentences (which state propositions). Syntax refers to grammatical changes, such as moving words around or adding questions words; prosody refers to changes in tone of voice while speaking. Some syntactic devices used by languages for marking questions include:

  • A marked word order different from the usual word order in statements (see wh-movement). For example, French speakers may ask questions using inversion, and English speakers may do so in sentences with auxiliary verbs (as in "Do you want...?" as opposed to "You do want....").
  • An interrogative mood or some other verb inflection such as the subjunctive mood
  • A grammatical particle (cf. Japanese ka, Mandarin ma)
  • Replacing a word in a declarative sentence with an interrogative word (also known as a wh-word) such as "what". For example, in English the declarative "you want something" can be changed into a question by replacing 'something' with 'what' and moving it, as well as adding the auxiliary "do" ("What do you want?"); in Mandarin, however, only the first step is necessary (你要什么? nǐ yào shénme, lit. "you want what?")

Non-syntactic devices include:

  • A different intonation pattern (often a raised pitch near the end of the sentence) - see Intonation (linguistics)
  • (In written language) distinctive punctuation, such as the question mark

Combinations of any of the above are possible, as well as alternative patterns for different types of questions. For example, English employs the syntactic approach (word order change) and the tonal pattern for common questions, but resorts to just raising the tone while leaving the word order as it is for focused (emphatic) questions such as "You did what?". Spanish changes the word order only when interrogative pronouns are involved (not in yes-no questions). In Chinese, the word order remains the same for questions as for statements, with the particle added to create a wh-interrogative in situ.

In languages written in the Latin alphabet or Cyrillic alphabet, a question mark at the end of the sentence identifies questions orthographically. In Spanish, an additional mark is placed at the beginning (e.g. ¿Cómo está usted?).

"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?" "Don't you have a passport?" are properly answered with "No", despite apparently asking opposite questions. The Japanese language avoids this ambiguity. Answering "No" to the second of these in Japanese would mean, "I do have a passport".

A similar ambiguous question in English is "Do you mind if...?" The responder may not reply unambiguously "Yes, I do mind," if they do, or "No, I don't mind," if they don't, 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" and the German "doch") to answer negative questions (or negative statements) in an affirmative way; they provide a means to express contradiction.

There are three types of sentences in the English language where the predicate can come before the subject. An interrogative sentence is one such one; for example, in "what did you buy?", the predicate "what" comes before the subject "you".


  • Yes/no-questions
    • Yes/no questions can be answered with a "yes" or "no", hence the name.
  • Wh-questions
    • Wh-questions use interrogative words to request information. In some languages, wh-movement may be involved. They cannot be answered with a yes or no.
  • Tag questions
    • 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"—for example, "You remembered the eggs, right?" Tag questions can be answered with a yes or no.

Questions and answers

The simplest questions implicitly or explicitly request information from a range (finite or infinite) of alternatives. When information purporting to be that requested is presented back to the questioner, the question is said to be answered. The information thus presented is called an answer. Answers may be correct or incorrect. They are incorrect if they present false information. If they present information from outside the proffered alternatives, they may be called wrong or simply inappropriate or irrelevant. This depends on the context, as do several other possibilities: Sometimes "I don't know" is an acceptable answer, sometimes even a correct answer. The same is true of "None of the above" and "There is no answer." An answer is the, or a, correct answer, if it presents true information which falls within the determined range of alternatives. Questions of this simplest sort usually begin with Who, what, which, where, when, does/do, is/are.

Other questions do not so easily fit this mould. For example, questions beginning "Why" and "How" often request any information at all that will alleviate certain confusion in a person who wants to ask that question. Here the manner in which the information is presented might be more important than which information is presented; the questioner may even already know all of the information contained in the right answer, and merely needs it to be expressed in a more useful form.

Ultimately, the interrogative pronouns (those beginning with wh in addition to the word how), derive from the Proto-Indo-European root kwo- or kwi, the former of which was reflected in Proto-Germanic as χwa- or khwa-.[citation needed]. In how (Old English , from Proto-Germanic χwō), the w merged into the lave of the word, as it did in Old Frisian hū, hō (Dutch hoe "how"), but it can still be seen in Old Saxon hwō, Old High German hwuo (German wie "how"). The Proto-Indo-European root directly originated the Latin and Romance form qu- in words such as Latin quī ("which") and quando ("when"). In English, the gradual change of voiceless stops into voiceless fricatives (phase 1 of Grimm's law) during the development of Germanic languages is responsible for "wh-" of interrogatives. Although some varieties of American English and various Scottish dialects still preserve the original sound (i.e. [hw] rather than [w]), the majority only preserve the [w]. The words who, whom, whose, what and why, can all be considered to come from a single Old English word hwā, reflecting its masculine and feminine nominative (hwā), dative (hwām), genitive (hwæs), neuter nominative and accusative (hwæt), and instrumental (masculine and neuter singular) (hwȳ, later hwī) respectively. Other interrogative words, such as which, how, where, whence as well as the now archaic whither derive either from compounds (which coming from a compound of hwā [what, who] and līc [like]), or other words from the same root (how deriving from ).


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 Socratic method of questioning student responses may be used by a teacher to lead the student towards the truth without direct instruction, and also helps students to form logical conclusions.

A widespread and accepted use of questions in an educational context is the assessment of students' knowledge through exams.

Philosophical questions

The philosophical questions are conceptual, not factual questions. There are questions that are not fully answered by any other. Philosophy deals with questions that arise when people reflect on their lives and their world. Some philosophical questions are practical: for example, "Is euthanasia justifiable?", "Does the state have the right to censor pornography or restrict tobacco advertising?", "To what extent are Mäori and Päkehä today responsible for decisions made by their ancestors?".

Other philosophical questions are more theoretical, although they often arise through thinking about practical issues. The questions just listed, for example, may prompt more general philosophical questions about the circumstances under which it may be morally justifiable to take a life, or about the extent to which the state may restrict the liberty of the individual. Some fascinating, 'classic', questions of philosophy are speculative and theoretical and concern the nature of knowledge, reality and human existence: for example, "What, if anything, can be known with certainty?", "Is the mind essentially non-physical?", "Are values absolute or relative?", "Does the universe need explanation in terms of a Supreme Intelligence?", "What, if anything, is the meaning or purpose of human existence?". Finally, the philosophical questions are typically about conceptual issues; they are often questions about our concepts and the relation between our concepts and the world they represent.

Origins of questioning behavior

Joseph Jordania recently suggested that the ability to ask questions might be the central cognitive element that distinguishes human and animal cognitive abilities.[4] Enculturated apes Kanzi, Washoe, Sarah and a few others who underwent extensive language training programs (with the use of gestures and other visual forms of communications) successfully learned to answer quite complex questions and requests (including question words "who" what", "where"), although so far they failed to learn how to ask questions themselves. For example, David and Anne Premack wrote: "Though she [Sarah] understood the question, she did not herself ask any questions — unlike the child who asks interminable questions, such as What that? Who making noise? When Daddy come home? Me go Granny's house? Where puppy? Sarah never delayed the departure of her trainer after her lessons by asking where the trainer was going, when she was returning, or anything else" [5]

See also


  1. ^ Research Methods Knowledge Base
  2. ^ Research Methods Knowledge Base. Types of Questions.
  3. ^ Types of Questions Based on Bloom's Taxonomy. (Bloom, et al., 1956).
  4. ^ Jordania, Joseph (2006). Who Asked the First Question? The Origins of Human Choral Singing, Intelligence, Language and Speech. Tbilisi: Logos. ISBN 99940-31-81-3. 
  5. ^ Premack, David; Premack, Ann J. (1983). The mind of an ape. New York, London: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 29. 
  • C. L. Hamblin, "Questions", in: Paul Edwards (ed.), Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • 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 Question Mark"
  • Muratta Bunsen, Eduardo, "Lo erotico en la pregunta", in: Aletheia 5 (1999), 65-74.
  • Smith, Joseph Wayne, Essays on ultimate questions: critical discussions of the limits of contemporary philosophical inquiry, Aldershot: Avebury, 1988.
  • Berti, Enrico, Soggetti di responsabilita: questioni di filosofia pratica, Reggio Emilia, 1993.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




Most common English words: live « hard « ask « #409: question » doubt » around » black

Alternative forms


From Middle English question, questioun, questiun from Anglo-Norman questiun from Old French question from Latin quaestionem, accusative of quaestio (a seeking, investigation, inquiry, question) from quaerere (to seek, ask, inquire).[1] Displaced native Middle English frain "question" (from Old English fræġn); cf Middle English frainen, freinen "to inquire, question", Middle English afrainen, affrainen "to question".





question (plural questions)

  1. A sentence, phrase or word which asks for information, reply or response; an interrogative.
    What is your question?
  2. A subject or topic for consideration or investigation
    The question of seniority will be discussed at the meeting.
  3. An unknown.
    There was a question of which material to use.
  4. A doubt or challenge about the truth or accuracy of a matter.
    His claim to the property has come under question.
  5. A proposal to a meeting as a topic for deliberation.
    I move that the question be put to a vote.


Derived terms

Related terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


to question

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to question (third-person singular simple present questions, present participle questioning, simple past and past participle questioned)

  1. To ask questions of; interrogate; enquire; ask for information.
  2. To raise doubts about; have doubts about.

Derived terms


See also


  • Notes:
  1. ^ question in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911

External links

  • question in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913




question f.

  1. a question.
  2. a matter or issue; a problem.

Simple English

A question is what someone asks, usually when there is something that he or she does not know. In writing, a question mark ("?") comes at the end of a question.

Types of question

Sometimes a question needs a simple answer like "Yes" or "No". Sometimes a question has a more complicated answer like "Maybe", or "I don't know". There are so many types of questions and so many ways of answering questions.

Examples of these questions

People may give a short answer. People may give a long answer. It depends on the question.

  • "How are you?"
  • "Can I help you?"
  • "Do you speak English?"
  • "Is this your bag?"
  • "What time is it?"
  • "Where are you from?"
  • "Why are you doing that?"
  • "Who do you want to see?"
  • "When will tea be ready?"
  • "What did you say?"
  • "How old are you?"
  • "What time is the football game?"
  • "Why do you look so funny?"
  • "Why did the chicken cross the road?"
  • "Where can I find the nearest subway station?"
  • "Why do you allow people to change an online encyclopedia?"


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address