Subject and Object Questions — Difference and Examples

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

In the English language, there are only two ways to form an interrogative or questioning sentence. Each follows a specific format and word choice and is simple to write as long as you understand some very basic rules.

To help you understand how to write a basic question, we’ve created a quick guide below with examples to get you started.

What Are Subjects and Objects?

There are only two forms of questions: Subject questions and object questions. In order to understand how to write questions, you first need to be able to recognize the subject and object of a sentence.

Subject Examples

The subject of a sentence performs the action.

For example:

  • The horse ran across the field.
  • Running offers excellent stress relief.
  • The Pacific Ocean spans the west coast of North and South America.
  • Jonathan qualified for the state swim meet.

Object Examples

The object of a sentence receives the action (or is acted upon).

For example:

  • The horse ran across the field.
  • Running offers excellent stress relief.
  • The Pacific Ocean spans the west coast of North and South America.
  • Jonathan qualified for the state swim meet.

What’s the Difference Between Subject and Object Questions?

httpsgrammarist.comgrammarsubject and object questions

Now that you’ve reviewed the differences between a subject and an object, you will better understand how to format subject and object questions.

What Are Subject Questions?

A subject question asks who, what, or which thing (or person) performed (or is performing) an action.

For example:

  • Who provides lunch at the conference?
  • What caused the flood?
  • Which type of sandwich is the best tasting?

What Are Object Questions?

Object questions ask about the receiver of the action. They are the most common question type in the English language.

For example:

  • What did you have for lunch?
  • Did you pick up lunch for all of us?
  • When will my order ship?

Using Auxiliary Verbs to Form Subject and Object Questions

Auxiliary verbs are helping verbs that support a sentence’s main action to indicate aspects of time and modality. The main auxiliary verbs include be, do, and have – as well as their various tense forms.

Modal verbs include:

  • Can, could
  • May, might, must
  • Should
  • Will, would

Auxiliary Verbs in Subject Questions

If a question uses simple tense form and is positive, no auxiliary verbs are used

For example:

  • Who took the bus to school?

But, if the question includes a negative subject, you would need an auxiliary verb to create a grammatically correct sentence.

For example:

  • Who didn’t take the bus to school?

Any other verb tense form requires auxiliary verbs, whether they are positive or negative. An auxiliary verb is always placed before the subject using the following basic structure:

Auxiliary verb + Subject + Main Verb

For example:

  • Do you have the notes from class?
  • How often do you practice your trumpet?
  • How many years have you lived in New York?
  • Where have you traveled this past year?

Auxiliary Verbs in Object Questions

Auxiliary verbs are always used after the following question words in an object question:

  • Who
  • Which
  • Which kind of
  • Which type of

Use the following equation for proper grammatical structure:

Who/Which (kind of / type of) + Auxiliary verb + Main verb

For example:

  • Which shoes do you recommend I wear with this dress?
  • Who do you have booked to present at the conference?

Let’s Review

There are two types of questions in the English language: Subject and object questions.

Subject questions ask what subject is performing (or performed) an action in the sentence. An object question asks what object received the action of the sentence.