It seems that my proofreaders have not spotted some mistakes. To confirm this, I will seek your advice here.

To me, normally questions are asked like this:

  • Are you a cook?
  • What are you cooking?
  • When will you cook?
  • Where will you cook?
  • Which of the dishes did you cook?
  • Why do you cook?
  • How do you cook?

Is it acceptable to ask the same questions like the following?

  • You are a cook?
  • You are cooking what?
  • You will cook at when?
  • You will cook at where?
  • You cooked which of the dishes?
  • You cook, why?
  • You cook, and how?
  • Yes, it is acceptable to make a statement that is an implied question (You are a cook?) The other examples of inverted questions are possible (except that you don't need 'at' before 'when' and 'where'). To me they suggest that the questioner is already aware of the situation but wants to clarify some details. "You said you were going to cook later - when exactly will that be?"
    – Kate Bunting
    Dec 1, 2016 at 10:07
  • "You are a cook?" is more often expressed with the contraction "You're a cook?".
    – John Feltz
    Dec 2, 2016 at 16:16
  • I counsel you in the strongest possible terms never to use the second style, because it is a conversational effect that can be carried out only by careful intonation, which requires a pitch control that is difficult to learn. It is also a complete failure in writing?
    – tchrist
    Dec 2, 2016 at 16:17

1 Answer 1


The second form is conversational, typically used with inflection to indicate that it is a question. That form tends to be used when you've just noticed someone does something that you didn't expect; that is, it frequently indicates surprise in addition to posing a question.

For example, if you have a friend who you have never even seen in a kitchen before, and one day you walk in on them preparing a fancy dinner, you might say something like "You cook? Since when?"

In general, the second style of the question is not a way of asking a question normally, and certainly not in formal writing. It's informal, conversational, and often indicates surprise in addition to (or even in place of) being a normal question.

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