Thursday, December 12, 2013
The Rules of Writing-Syntax-The Sentence-Sentence Classes-Interrogative Sentences
By OFW chief editor:
Carlos J Cortes And Renée Miller
Published: June 21, 2013
The next kind of sentence is the interrogative. These are also known as questions. Most interrogative sentences expect answers, information, confirmation, or the denial of a statement. Often, they begin with a question word (what, who, or how) or an auxiliary verb (be, do, can, or would).
What are you doing this evening?
Can I have more meatloaf?
Has your new dress shrunk?
We must be careful to distinguish between direct and indirect questions. Direct questions normally reverse the word order, placing the verb before the subject, and end with a question mark.
Is that a Rottweiler?
What did she do to her dress?
Indirect questions normally do not use the inverted subject-verb order or end with a question mark.
I wonder if other dogs think Rottweilers are the Gestapo.
I want to know what she did to the dress.
According to form, we can classify interrogative sentences into the following categories:
Yes-No interrogative sentences
These sentences require answers limited to yes or no:
Are you lonesome tonight?
Is this seat taken?
Have you taken the garbage out?
Alternative interrogative sentences
These offer different responses, which are not yes or no.
Should I wear the leopard-print windbreaker or the gray coat?
Do you want apples, pears, or a tot of malt whiskey?
Is she Fifi, Mary, or Genevieve?
These sentences are introduced by interrogative adverbs or pronouns, such as what, where, or who.
What’s going on here?
Where is my new shirt?
Who wrote Naná?
These consist of auxiliary verbs followed by a pronoun and are tagged onto the end of declarative sentences.
Sonia has grown since we last saw her, hasn’t she?
The kids are having fun, aren’t they?
My Bouillabaisse is magnificent, isn’t it?
These are excellent devices for writers—as long as we use them in moderation. These questions have interrogative form (they are punctuated with a question mark), but they are statements since we don’t expect direct answers.
Why should I care?
Why do Americans bellyache about their presidents? They voted them into power.
Who does she thinks she is?
The most powerful way to handle these questions is by carefully inserting them in description or internal dialogue:
That couldn’t be their baby, it couldn’t. The memory of the hideous creature wouldn’t leave his head, joining that image one of Dana crouched on the floor sobbing. He knew they’d fought, and he’d kicked her, but surely that didn’t cause their baby to look like that. It probably was bad genetics. Obviously, her gene pool was pretty shallow.
“Surely that didn’t cause their baby to look like that,” is an excellent example of a rhetorical question.
Renee Miller & Carlos Cortes
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