In Persian, when we want to make a question we put some words in front of the sentence (How, Why) but the sentence remains the same, if it is a normal question such is it red, in formal sentences we put a specific word like "Aya it is red", otherwise we simply say "it is red?" (by the way I should say Persian is a SOV language)

Then I have this bad habit in English and many times I tend to say:

It is red?

Then you mean how it works?

Why you don't say him? Why you say these to me?

Why I should bother?

How I can fix this problem?

I would like to know, do natives also use such format for their questions? if yes, in which situations or for which type of questions?

  • These can only be used in special contexts with special meanings. They don't work as regular questions.
    – user230
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 22:28

2 Answers 2


You can use the declarative form in some circumstances. For example if I say:

I really like that red car. (I am saying it is red.)

But you think it is violet. Then you could say:

It is red?

Basically you are repeating what I said, but questioning my statement.

As another example, I say:

I am an expert at instructing people how to operate computer operated tractors.

But you are unclear about what I mean. Then you could say:

Then you mean how it works?

Here you are rewording what I said, in an attempt to understand better.

  • Thanks, I feel in such questions the stress is on the word before the question (It is RED? or simply RED?) or any other word in the sentence I CAN fix this problem? as someone want to get admission on that word.
    – Ahmad
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 21:10

Generally speaking, this is not a valid format in English. All of the examples you gave there have a verb that can be considered conditional. With those verbs, you can turn something into a question just by reversing the subject-verb order, so that

It is red.


Is it red?

"I should bother", while grammatically correct, sounds very strange to a native speaker. But its question form, "Should I bother?", is perfectly valid. I don't know how to explain that one to you, but I would use "I should care", but "Should I bother?" and "Should I care?" are equally valid. If anyone knows why, I'd love to hear it too.

These phrases can also be modified with a question word to change their meaning, so "Can I fix this problem?" just asks if it is possible, while "How can I fix this problem?" asks for an explanation or procedure for fixing the problem.

As always with English, there are many nuances. One is that, unfortunately, I can not tell you what verbs the above construction works with. It's something that I just know from experience. "Is", "can", "should", "would" all work this way, but "fix" does not. Instead, you modify "fix" with one of the other verbs, in your example "can".

Last but not least, you can make what I'm going to call declarative questions. This is where you take a declarative statement, and do nothing but add a question mark, and now you are asking if the statement is true or false. Your "It is red?" is an example of this. It implies that you hope or expect the statement to be true, but desire confirmation. I'm not sure this is really grammatically correct. It probably has no place in formal writing, but it is a common construction in conversational English.

  • Sorry, but I am not sure you got me right or not! I know the difference between Can I fix this problem and How can I fix this problem, and how to make a question. but I would like to know if one may say I can fix this problem? if the problem is about can and fix, OK can one say You ate something? or You go picnic?
    – Ahmad
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 20:50
  • You generally mean, such structure is just valid for certain sentences and it is more to get admission? like I am a good student?, Here is London?, We are going to Holland tomorrow?
    – Ahmad
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 20:57
  • Those would fall under my last paragraph about declarative questions. You can say "I can fix this problem?" It means the same as "can I fix this problem?" But it adds the implication that you assume the answer is yes. You can not say "You go picnic?" because "you go picnic" is not a valid phrase. "Picnic" is an indirect object and requires a prepositional phrase. I would say "are you going to the picnic?" Omitting the "are" is acceptable in conversational English but I don't think it's technically correct.
    – TBridges42
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 21:02
  • Thanks, sorry for my bad English, but you got my main point that is if I can not reorder them or not.
    – Ahmad
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 21:04
  • 1
    @Ahmad No. With a wh- word a question must have subject/auxiliary inversion, because without inversion you don't have a sentence but a fused relative, which acts as a noun. Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 11:19

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