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In Case You Want to Master the Art of Quick Questions


So, you are here to get the clue about quick questions and their usage in the English language, aren’t you?

If your answer was “Yeah”, then you are on the right way towards dealing with this issue successfully. Why? Because you have just given a short answer and the rest is only to ask the same-length questions!

Getting into the Theory

Learning Material

Let’s define the term of a “quick question” to understand its value in communication. Usually a quick question is described as a common expression that does not involve much time to form it but the speaker expects the same answer from his or her companion. Once I have read a great statement “A quick question is, unfortunately, not a guarantee of a quick answer, nor even short.” It is up to the answerer what he or she wants to reply and how long they want their reply to be.

Short or quick? Short question may only seem as short and does not give a guarantee of a brief answer. For example, you ask “What is sense of life?” and you may get a whole manuscript of thinking about this topic. But when asking a quick question like “Do you want to go?” you are more likely to get a quick reply as well.

The main point in this is brevity. At the same time, answering with only “Yes” or “No” can be considered more informal than for example “Yes, I do” or “No, I don’t”.

“Do you want to come with us?

Yes. (informal)

Yes, I do. (formal)”

Another form of short questions that require quick reply is reducing the length of the questions by omitting some of its components. As a result, questions turn to be:

  1. Single words. E.g. Hungry? Deal?
  2. Clauses. E.g. Call me?
  3. Phrases. E.g. Working today?

Among others, it is worth mentioning that auxiliary verbs cannot be omitted if the main subject is I:

What have I told you?

Not: Told you?

Naturally, when speaking and knowing the context of a conversation, we may omit some repeated phrases like:

- Do you want to go out tonight?

- No, not really.

- Why’s that? (full form would be: why don’t you want to go out tonight?)

- I better read a book this evening.

So, if we know what the theme is about, we may freely reduce the sentence to make it sound shorter without losing the sense of it.

Let’s not forget about the golden rule of W-questions: What? Where? Why? What for? When? They are very useful when needing to get an instant reply, chiefly very detailed and without musing about it for long.

- Let’s go eat tonight.

- When?

- At five o’clock.

Short Answers Explained

People Talking

For those unfamiliar, a long question may be answered with either one-word answer or a full essay answer – the difference is in the people’s expectations. Nevertheless, I will concentrate on the theory of short answers.

On conversational level, we may present our reply with only “yes” or “no” as a way of expressing our affirmation or negation. In more polite English, the auxiliary verbs serve as tools for “reflecting” the question and they are just a bit longer. Have a look:

- Do you know me?

- (politer) Yes, I do.

- (conversational) Yes.

In the same way, the verbs can, have, is, are can be equally answered with a method of reflection.

- Have you seen my bag?

- No, I haven’t. OR

- No.

A bit of complexity adds the verb are, as it is replaced with “am” when giving a reply:

- Are you here?

- Yes, I am. OR

- Yes.

Also, when you want to answer from the person of other people along with yourself, use an appropriate verb for that:

- Do you go to the park today?

- No, we don’t. OR

- No.

Another example requires the knowledge of tenses. We must realize that when a question was asked in a past tense, the auxiliary verb remains in the past tense as a reply:

- Did you help her as I asked?

- Yes, I did. OR

- Yes.

Tip questions can be freely used in order to clarify the received information and ask for its approval in a brief way.

- You have finished working, haven’t you?

- Yes, I have.

In a phrase, the presence of such quick questions and answers in English language allows us, as speakers, to be more precise in our thoughts and in that way to spare time as omitting some of the elements of a common sentence. Moreover, they are just very convenient to use as the tool for expressing yourself in a brief way in communication.

The implementation of such questions and answers in a conversational language as well as written slang language allows its speakers to have a full context without being forced to speak it out. As a result, we learn to communicate with a limited number of words in usage and understand each other more on a level of gestures, looks, by guessing the mood of a companion and reading between the lines. Naturally, misunderstandings on this basis may evoke, still they do not obstruct the live conversation between people.

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