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Using Questions

 

Techniques > Use of language > Syntax > Using Questions

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

Use questions to elicit answers that provide you with useful information.

Use questions to test the other person, checking their honesty of testing what they know.

Use questions to involve people, retain their interest and encourage them to like you.

Use questions to get other people to think and discover things for themselves.

Use simple stock questions to start a conversation.

Use tag questions (e.g. ...,aren't you? ...,isn't it? ...,won't they?) to turn statements into questions.

Example

What are you looking for? (gathering information)

Do you come here often? (starting a conversation)

Would you believe that? How stupid can you get? (rhetorical question)

You're ready, aren't you? (statement plus tag question)

Discussion

Whereas the primary purpose of questions is to gain answers, they are often used for other purposes.

Socratic questioning is a traditional method of using questions to get people to think for themselves. Socrates was a famous Athenian teacher who seldom directly told his pupils anything.

Stock questions usually signal that you are being friendly. Their meaning is unambiguous and they offer the other person an easy answer.

Rhetorical questions are not intended to be answered. They are, in effect, statements.

Using tag questions creates an element of surprise that can lead people to agreeing to things with which they otherwise might not agree.

See also

Questioning techniques

 

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