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20 essential English questions

Questions are an essential part of communication. They help us to get important information from others, and they open the door to conversation.

This practical resource provides real language you will actually use. While most of these questions are for face-to-face communication, you can use some of them in phone conversations, or in emails and texts. I have included a variety of real situations so you can start developing your speaking skills and your confidence today. If you would like to add your own examples to this list, please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

Here are 20 essential questions every English learner should know. I have highlighted the most common question under each category.


*Note: "Can" is typically used to talk about ability (Ex: "I can swim."), but it is also used for requests in casual situations. You might occasionally speak to someone who thinks they are funny by saying "I don't know. Can you?" if you make a request like "Can I go to the bathroom?" For this reason, it's just safer to use the more polite "May I...?" or the neutral "Could I...?" in these situations. A reminder that adding "please" at the end of a request makes the request more polite.

Could/Can you …?

Could you help me (with this)?

Can you give me a hand with this?

Could you pass me the salt, please?

Can you lend me 5 dollars?

Could you let me know the best time to call?

May/Could/Can I…?

May I have one?

Can I get back to you? (This means "Can I respond to you at a later time?")

Can I call you back?

Could I see that?

May I sit here?

Can I have a few more minutes, please?

May/Could/Can I borrow…?

Can I borrow that?

Could I borrow your phone?

May I borrow your eraser, please?

Can I borrow your textbook?

May I borrow this for a minute?

May/Could/Can I speak with…?

May I speak with Daniel, please?

Could I speak with the billing department?

May I speak with technical support?

Could I speak to someone who can help me with with my monthly bill?


May/Could/Can I...?

Can I help you (with something)?

Can I give you a hand?

May I offer you some advice?

Can I do something? (to help)

Would you like…?

Would you like one?

Would you like some help?

Would you like some more?

Would you like to lie down?

Would you like to join us?

Would you like to come?

Location and direction

Where is…?

Where is it?

Where is the bathroom?

Where is the remote?

Where is my phone?

How do I/you get to…?

How do I get there?

How do I get to the theatre?

How do you get to the library?

How do I get to your house?

How do you get to the university?

Permission and obligation

May/Could/Can I…?

Can I ask you a question?

Can I park here? (also: "Am I allowed to park here?")

May I pay the other half at a later date?

Can I start the presentation?

Cost and payment

How much is/for…?

How much is it?

How much is this?

How much for that one?

How much for two of those?

(also: "How much does this/that/it cost?")

Do you accept/take...?

Do you take credit?

Do you accept cash?

Do you accept checks?

Do you take debit?

Yes/No verification and information confirmation

Are you...?

Are you okay?

Are you sure?

Are you done?

Are you coming?

Are you open/closed? (said to a bank/store/etc. employee)

Are you free...? (also: "Are you available...?")

Are you free tomorrow?

Are you free after work?

Are you free for lunch today?

Are you free at 6 o'clock?

Is it...?

Is it open/closed?

Is it ready?

Is it done?

Is it good?

Do you have…?

Do you have a minute?

Do you have the time?

Do you have any questions?

Do you have a lighter?

Do you have gluten-free options?


What is it?

What do you want?

What would you like?

What do you need?


How did you do that?

How do you say _____ in English?

How does it taste?

How can you be sure?

Time and length

How long...?

How long is it?

How long is the movie?

How long was the trip?

How long did you stay there?

How long will it take?

What time...?

What time is it?

What time does it open/close?

What time is it over?

What time do you finish work today?


When is it? (the event/wedding/concert/etc.)

When does it start?

When does it end?

When did you go to bed last night?

When are you leaving?


Have you used some or all of these questions? Can you think of more examples? Leave them in the comments. If you found this article useful and you would like to learn more practical English vocabulary, you might enjoy one of my books.

Until next time, I wish you success in your studies.

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