Type 6: “Yes / No” Questions [IELTS SPEAKING TEST – PART 1]

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Question Type 6: “Yes / No” Questions

In IELTS speaking Part One, the examiner might ask you questions which appear to be direct “Yes / No” questions.

Look at the following examples:

  • Do people wear special clothes at weddings in your country?
  • Is watching TV a popular activity in your country?
  • Do you think it is important to play sports / do physical exercise?
  • Is fast food popular in your country?
  • Is healthy eating important?
  • Can you play a musical instrument?
  • Do you think it‘s important for children to learn to play a musical instrument?
  • Is food expensive in your country?
  • Is education free in your country?
  • Do you think you are an ambitious person?

A common problem with these questions is that many candidates begin their answer with a direct “Yes” or “No” and then or more details to explain their answer.

This is not wrong, but these answers are often too simple in grammar structure and lack the essential linking phrases.

A better answer is to answer BOTH “Yes” and “No”. By doing this you will produce a response with better quality language structures.

Look at the following example:

“Is healthy eating important?”

“Yes, healthy eating is important, because…”

If you answer in this way, you are limiting your answer to a fairly basic structure.

Now look at the next example:

“Well in actual fact, if I think about it. I guess that in many ways it’s fairly important; especially when you consider that a healthy diet can help to prevent a variety of diseases and health problems such as diabetes and obesity. But you also have to understand that eating unhealthy food in moderation is not overly harmful. In fact unhealthy food is often tastier than healthy food so I guess it’s fine to eat a little junk food now and then. So all in all I guess my answer would have to be yes and no.”

It is possible to use this type of structure for many, but not all, “Yes / No” questions.

Look at the list of questions at the beginning of this section and decide which ones you would be able to answer with this structure.

The structure can be built in this way. First, use an opening phrase:

  • Well in actual fact, if I think about it, I guess that in many ways…
  • OK, well in reality, I suppose that to some extent…
  • Alright. I guess that on the one hand…
  • Well certainly in some ways…

Now make your first statement (e.g. It’s fairly important…). Develop the first statement using a linking structure:

  • …especially when you consider that…
  • …particularly if you think about the point that…
  • …especially with regard to the point that…
  • …and this is definitely the case with…

Try using this structure to give a “Yes” answer for the following questions:

  • Is crime a problem in your country?
  • Do people in your country often keep pets?
  • Is it always good to be ambitious?

Now you need to introduce your “No” answer. First use a linking phrase:

  • But you also have to understand that…
  • Even so, you could also say that…
  • At the same time you could say that…

After describing your “No” answer, you can “round-off ” the answer with one of the following phrases:

  • So all in all I guess my answer would have to be yes and no.
  • So on the whole I suppose the answer has to be yes and no.
  • So all things considered I guess the answer is both yes and no.
  • So in the main, I suppose the answer is probably yes and no.

Use the full structure to answer the following questions:

  • Do many people work on farms in your country?
  • Is food expensive in your country?
  • Is public transport expensive in your country?
  • Do you think that it is important to spend time alone?

Some “Yes / No” questions in Part One cannot use this “Yes and No” style of response. Look at the following questions:

  • Is watching TV a popular activity in your country?
  • Can you play a musical instrument?
  • Are friends important to you?

With questions like this it may be difficult to answer both yes and no. It is probably much easier to give a “Yes” answer. Use the structures given to introduce your “Yes” idea and then develop this single idea with one or two reasons or details.

Summary of “Yes / No” Questions

The most important thing is to avoid repeating the question structure with a “Yes” or “No”. Example:

“Is fast food popular in your country?”

“Yes, fast food is very popular in my country, especially…”

As we have seen before, repeating the question structure does not have any significant influence on your score, so if you want a high score – DON’T DO IT!

With these questions you need to think quite quickly, especially if you want to give a “Yes and No” style answer. You don’t need to have wonderful ideas for your “Yes and No” answer. Just something that gives you the chance to use the structure. Remember – the examiner is not marking your ideas.