Subject and Object Questions in English

Exam in Mind Level A2/B1

The subject of a sentence is the person or thing that performs the action:

  • We want some fruit juice.
  • Karen likes Fred.
  • Smoking causes cancer.

The object of a sentence is the person or thing that is acted upon, or receives the action:

  • We want some fruit juice.
  • Karen likes Fred.
  • Smoking causes cancer.

Most questions in English are object questions – we want to know about the receiver of the action. These questions follow the formula: question word + auxiliary verb + subject + main verb.

Subject questions do NOT use the auxiliary verbs. Form subject questions: Who/What + verb + object

Examples of subject questions:  Who wants some fruit juice? – We want some fruit juice.  Who likes Fred? – Karen likes Fred. What causes cancer? – Smoking causes cancer.

Let’s have a look at some more examples of Subject Object Questions:

James dropped the glass.
Object question: What did James drop?
Subject question: Who dropped the glass?

We will read the book.
Object question: What will you read?
Subject question: Who will read the book?

Amanda washed the car.
Object question: What did Amanda wash?
Subject question: Who washed the car?

Task 1. Choose the correct questions using the following prompts. You should ask a question about the word underlined:

1. I bought a newspaper this morning.
 What bought you this morning?
 What did you buy this morning?
 What you did buy this morning?

2. Something odd happened during the storm last night.
 What happened during the storm last night?
 What did happen during the storm last night?

3. One of the students didn’t do the final exam.
 Who didn’t the final exam do?
 Who didn’t do the final exam?

4. I wrote a romantic letter to one of the teachers.
 Who did you write a romantic letter to?
 Who wrote you a romantic letter?

5. Something disturbed me when I was working.
 What did you disturb when you were working?
 What disturbed you when you were working?
 What did disturb you when you were working?

6. I dreamt about a strange animal last night.
 What did you dream about last night?
 What dreamed about you last night?

7. Somebody rang me at 3am last week!
 Who did you ring at 3am last week?
 Who you rang at 3am last week?
 Who rang you at 3am last week?

8. Someone gave me a watch for my birthday.
 Who gave you a watch for your birthday?
 Who did give you a watch for your birthday?