Here are 10 types of questions you can ask. Try a different one everyday and watch your conversation skills improve.
One or Two Word Questions
A question does not need to be long or complicated. If you are already in a conversation, they can act as a bridge to help move things along.
For this type of question, intonation is important. Use eye contact and show interest.
Give them a try! Let me know what happens!
There are two types of tag questions. The first kind is really used to make small talk, often with strangers or acquaintances (people you don’t know well).
It’s cold out, isn’t it?
This rain will never stop, will it?
When using a tag question, your voice should not rise at the end like it would if asking a regular question. That’s because you aren’t asking to get an answer, but rather stating something obvious.
Think of these questions as little invitations to make a comment or have a short casual conversation.
The other kind of tag question is for checking a fact or belief you aren’t sure about, so your intonation should rise at the end. Take a look at two examples, and remember that the speaker doesn’t know what the answer will be.
You’re not Canadian, are you? (meaning: I don’t know.)
Joseph wasn’t serious when he said that, was he? (meaning: I wasn’t sure.)
Small Talk Questions
These types of questions are good when you do not know the person very well, or you are talking to a stranger.
"Do you know if it will rain tomorrow?"
"Did you hear the news today?"
"How do you know Tae Hun?"
Sometimes we just need the cold, hard facts. If information is what you need, then "technical questions" will get you far.
"What is a collocation?"
"How do I use this language app?"
"When would I use the past perfect?"
Ask basic personal questions. This a great one because most people LOVE to talk about themselves.
"What's your name?"
"Where are you living these days?" "Do you like it?"
"When did you decide to study English?"
Personal Memory Questions
Asking questions about a person's past can lead to real in-depth conversations. They are a great way to get to know someone and see what makes them tick (meaning: learn about what a person cares about). A quick tip; these types of questions are essential for anyone out there looking for love! They help people connect.
"What does this song bring up for you?" (meaning - What do you remember or think of when you listen to this song?)
"How did you celebrate your birthday as a child?"
"Help Me" Questions
We all get stuck sometimes, and some of these questions above may lead to misunderstanding and confusion. The secret is to have "Help Me" questions built into your listening arsenal.
They can be very basic or more sophisticated:
"I didn't understand you, can you repeat that please?"
"I'm new here. Could you tell me...?"
"I'm a bit lost. Can you help me find my classroom number, please?"
Bonus Practice Tip: For all the question types above, write down a list of your own questions (aim for two or three in each category) then get out there and try them out!
I like this category of questions best because they are so much fun to ask! A hypothetical question is one based on a supposition. A hypothetical will often refer to a situation that is not real. Often the question starts with "if..." or "What if..."
"If the world was flat, what would the underside look like?'
Hypothetical questions usually refer to a situation or an imagined idea to provoke or reveal an individual's personality, values or thinking strategies. Try these examples if you are ready to get things going!
"If you found a million dollars in a suitcase, what would you do?"
"If you could re-live last year, what would you change?"
Bonus: follow up with "And then what?"
These are personal questions that go deeper. Probing means trying to uncover information. Sometimes, interesting truths can be revealed by asking probing questions. Try one or two next time you are with a friend; they go a bit deeper than the casual questions.
Here's one word of caution. You might want to determine if the person you are speaking with is comfortable enough to answer a probing question. Hint- check their body language!
"What did you do last night?"
"What do you do when you aren't working?"
Bonus: follow up with: "Why?"
An open-ended question does not require a yes or a no, instead provides answers that recall experiences or ideas or thoughts from the responder. The great thing about open-ended questions is they usually result in longer, interesting answers.
Now sit back and practice your listening skills! Also, be sure to use the bonus question, especially if the conversation stalls.
"What is the most important thing to you about friendship?"
"What is the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?"
Bonus: Follow up with, "And what else?"