Form yes/no questions

All questions in Spanish, as you may have noticed, start with an inverted question mark “¿” and end with an upright question mark “?”. The simplest questions are those that can be answered with a simple yes or no and are sometimes followed by the statement that is being agreed or disagreed with to further clarify what is being answered. There are three formats for these types of questions.

Play AudioLa pregunta básica

A simple question is typically formatted in the verb / subject / clause format, or a simple inversion of the subject and verb in a standard sentence. Note that unlike English, Spanish does not use the auxiliary verb ‘do/does’ in questions.

en español en inglés
Play Audio¿Habla María español? Does María speak Spanish?
Play Audio¿Conservan ustedes el agua? Do you conserve water?
Play Audio¿Usas tú una computadora? Do you use a computer?

Play AudioLa frase como pregunta

By altering the format to subject / verb / clause a question is still possible. To differentiate this sequence from a simple statement extra inflection must be placed at the end of the sentence. Unlike the previous format, this word order usually results in a question that implies a certain level of disbelief in the statement being expressed.

Play Audio¿María habla español? María speaks Spanish?
Play Audio¿Ustedes conservan el agua? You conserve water?
Play Audio¿Tú usas una computadora? You use a computer?

Play AudioLas coletillas interrogativas

By using the same subject / verb / clause format of a standard statement with a tag question other moods are possible. Tag questions are more common in spoken language than in written form, likely because they can carry a variety of meanings depending on the context and intonation. Generally, the statement tends to reflect the questioner’s belief in the actual truth, and really is seeking a confirmation from the person being questioned. In this way, they tend to cue the other person with the desired response.

Play AudioMaría habla español, ¿no? María speaks Spanish, doesn’t she?
Play AudioUstedes conservan el agua, ¿verdad? You conserve water, right?
Play AudioTú usas una computadora, ¿no? You use a computer, don’t you?

Another format of tag question is used to solicit agreement to do something:

Play AudioVamos a la oficina, ¿de acuerdo? We are going to the office, OK?
Play AudioMe van a pagar más, ¿de acuerdo? You will pay me more, OK?
Play AudioVoy a mi casa, ¿de acuerdo? I’m going home, OK?

Play AudioLas respuestas

Responding to all of these types of questions is done in the same format. For “Yes” responses the subject / verb / clause format is retained following the word “yes”.

Play AudioSí, María habla español. Yes, María speaks Spanish.
Play AudioSí, nosotros conservamos el agua. Yes, we conserve water.
Play AudioSí, yo uso una computadora. Yes I use a computer.

There are two ways of making a negative statement: One is to simply negate the statement as in the examples below by placing the no before the verb.

Play AudioNo, María no habla español. No, María does not speak Spanish.
Play AudioNo, nosotros no conservamos el agua. No, we don’t conserve water.
Play AudioNo, yo no uso una computadora. No, I don’t use a computer.

The other is a negation of the statement with an affirmation of a related fact afterwards as shown below.

Play AudioNo, María habla inglés. No, María speaks English.
Play AudioNo, conservamos los animales. No, we conserve the animals.
Play AudioNo, yo uso una calculadora. No, I use a calculator.