(+) While I was sleeping, a thief stole my purse.
(-) While I wasn't sleeping, a thief stole my purse.
(?) While was I sleeping, a thief stole my purse?
Is this correct grammatically?
Thanks a lot!
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While I was sleeping, a thief stole my purse.
This is grammatically correct. Alternatively:
A thief stole my purse while I was sleeping.
When I wasn't sleeping, a thief stole my purse.
A thief stole my purse when I was awake.
While I was sleeping, did a thief steal my purse?
Did a thief steal my purse while I was sleeping?
This is too long for a comment, but does not really answer your question. The construction you labeled (?) is very interesting.
As you know, especially in spoken English, some statements can be turned into questions by raising the voice toward the end (which can't be written, but which can be denoted with a question mark):
"You're going to school tomorrow?" = "Are you going to school tomorrow."
You have identified a specific situation where this can't happen, but I can't tell you the rule. It's not the past progressive:
"You went to work while I was sleeping?" -- sounds fine to me, but "While I was sleeping, you went to work?" does not. I hope a grammar expert will shed some light.
EDIT: my sense is that we use the "tone of voice" construction to make a question most often when we expect that the answer is yes and we are confirming that this is the case... you might call it a "confirmational question." So it's not quite identical to the syntactic question, but it's close enough.