Video clip: The verb BE in questions

Learn how to use the verb BE in Interrogative sentences. At the end of the lesson, you will also know the difference between Yes or No questions and WH-questions.

Now read this conversation between two pupils on their first day of school. Their names are Takondwa and Rachel. Notice how the verb BE is used in Yes or No questions and WH- questions.

Takondwa: Hi!

Rachel: Hi! How are you?

Takondwa: Fine, and you?

Rachel: I’m okay.

Takondwa:  I’m so happy to start school again. The holidays were really long.

Rachel: You’re right. I was so bored and there were so many things to do at home. I did the cooking, the washing, the…

Takondwa: Don’t even talk about chores. Let’s keep that for this afternoon.  What‘s your name by the way? I’m Takondwa.

Rachel: My name’s Rachel. Takondwa! That’s a nice name and what a coincidence! My brother’s name is Kondwani. He’s 12 years old.

Takondwa: Oh, how old are you? You don’t look older than 12.

Rachel: I’m also 12.

Takondwa: How come?

Rachel: Ha, ha, ha. We’re twins.

Takondwa: All right, I understand. Where is he now? Why is he not here?

Rachel: Who?

Takondwa: Your brother, of course.

Rachel: Kondwani? He’s at home because he’s sick. He’s got Malaria.

Takondwa: Oh, sorry. How is he? Is he in a serious condition?

Rachel: No, don’t worry. He’s on medication. I think next week he’ll be able to start school.

Takondwa: Sorry.

Rachel: Thank you.

Takondwa: Are we in the same class?

Takondwa: I’m in Form 2B.

Rachel: Me too! (The two girls scream and clap each other’s right hand. Then they hug and clap hands again.)

Takondwa: We’re lucky! I can’t believe it.

Rachel: Yes, we are!

Takondwa: Who is our Maths teacher?

Rachel: Mr. Phiri.

Takondwa: Great! He’s an excellent teacher.

Rachel: Really?

Takondwa: And he’s very strict too. He’s a no-nonsense man.

Rachel: Good then. It means we’ll have good grades. My parents will be happy.

Takondwa: Very happy, ha, ha. It’s better that way.

Rachel: Where are your parents from?

Takondwa: My mother’s from Dedza and my father from Kasungu. What about yours?

Rachel: My mother was born in Zambia. She moved to Karonga when she was 3. My father is from Nsanje.

Takondwa: Wow, what a story! How did they meet?

Rachel: Long story. Iii Takondwa, I don’t have a watch. When is our first class? We need to go.

Takondwa: (Takondwa glances at her wrist). Mayo ine, we have to go right now. Mr. Phiri is waiting for us.

Rachel: Oh, no.

GLOSSARY: Chichewa-English

Takondwa: We are happy

Kondwani: Be happy

(Most of the times, African names have meanings. Here are other examples: Mabvuto (trouble), Dalitso (Blessing), Chisomo (grace), Chimwemwe (joy), Alinafe (he is with us), Mtendere (peace), Limbani (be strong), Mphatso (gift), Tiyamike (we praise), Ganizani (think), Pilirani (perservere), Fatsani (be meek),

Iii: An interjection that expresses surprise in Chichewa

Mayo ine!: An interjection that expresses a feeling of panic in Chichewa

Your turn: BE in questions

Now imagine your own conversation in which two pupils meet on their first day of school. Use Yes or No questions and WH-questions. Write at least 120 to 200 words. You can post your story on this page.

You can also download the following exercises.