How to Ask Questions Correctly

People don’t respond when I ask questions 

How to Ask Questions Correctly

How to Ask Questions Correctly

This week Miguel and Priya both told me that their colleagues don’t respond right away when they ask questions at meetings.

This may be happening to you too.

Here’s one reason why.

Breakdowns at meetings can happen if you don’t use the correct intonation patterns when you ask questions.

If you don’t know these rules for question intonation patterns…don’t worry.

I’ll explain them to you now.

Two common intonation patterns for asking questions

In American English, we use different intonation patterns when asking questions.

Here are the two most common patterns are rising intonation and rising falling intonation.

1. We use rising intonation for questions that’ll be answered with “yes” or a “no”.

For example: “Are you COMing? ⤴” has rising intonation.

2. We use risingfalling intonation when the question starts with “wh” words: what, when, where, who or how.

For example; “When are you COMing? ⤵” has rising falling intonation.

Listen here


American listeners rely on hearing these intonation patterns. When we hear them, we immediately understand that you asked a question.

If you deliver your message without intonation, we’re not sure that you asked a question.

Since we’re unsure, we may not respond.

Intonation is critical for communication

Even if your pronunciation is good, your intention may be lost if you fail to speak with the right intonation.

American English is a melodic language. The melody use use, or don’t use, makes a huge impact the way people interpret your message.

I can show you how

If you’re a non native English speaker wants to speak American English in a way that your colleagues will understand, take a free trial lesson by following the link below.

My training programs will teach you how speak English in a way that Americans will respect and understand!

About the author

Susan Ryan is an American English communication and accent reduction coach.