The two meanings of “quick question” and “short question” are more different than you might realize. Native speakers use them differently, and this article will explain how you can use both of them.
What Is The Difference Between A “Quick Question” And A “Short Question”?
A “quick question” is something that you hope can be answered quickly. You usually expect the person to know the answer straight away and not think much. A “short question” refers to a question that doesn’t have a lot of words in it, while the answer could be lengthy.
The key difference is the expected answer. Usually, a quick question will expect a much quicker answer. However, there is no way to guarantee that the person you’re asking will have that answer straight away, so you might end up with a longer response than intended.
However, a short question comes with no such answer rules. We can expect a long or short answer depending on the context of the question. There is no reason for the answer to a short question to be quick.
Is “Quick Question” Or “Short Question” Used The Most?
You may benefit from learning which of the two is more common. To most native speakers, there is only one that truly stands out above the other.
According to Google Ngram Viewer, “quick question” is the most popular choice. Historically, “short question” used to be much more popular, while “quick question” didn’t exist, but they have now switched in popularity.
Before directing the question, most people will say something like “quick question.” For example:
- Quick question; do you know where I can find the towels?
This is a common language construct for most native speakers. They will often initiate with the phrase “quick question” to indicate that they don’t expect a lengthy answer.
However, the same cannot be said for “short question.” Most native speakers do not explicitly say “short question” in any way. Instead, they’ll just direct a question to someone that doesn’t have many words:
- How old are you?
Is “Quick Question” And “Short Question” Used Differently In American English And British English?
We could take it even further and look at the differences between the two phrases in American English and British English. Sometimes, there are quite telling disparities between the two, which might explain certain rules.
According to Google Ngram Viewer, “quick question” is the most popular choice in American English. It follows almost exactly the same trend as the common English graph we showed you earlier.
While there are fewer data points in British English, according to Google Ngram Viewer, “quick question” is still the most popular choice. Also, “short question” is very rarely used (if at all).
You might notice the same trends in both graphs showing that, two centuries ago, “short question” used to be the most popular. Of course, times change, and languages evolve, and that’s why we tend to phase out uncommon words or phrases like this.
So, both American English and British English use “quick question” more often than “short question.” It’s the most commonly written phrase you use to identify a question that expects a fast answer.
Examples Of How To Use “Quick Question” In A Sentence
Some examples of how to use each will go a long way in helping you understand more about them. We’ll start with the more popular choice, which is “quick question.”
- I’ve got a quick question that I’d like to run past you! How do I get to the Saints Building?
- Quick question for you; where can I get myself a hat like that?
- I have a quick question, though I’m not sure if you’re the best to ask. Why isn’t this television set working?
- Quick question: how do I get to the interstate from here?
- Quick question for you; what’s the best time to put in the turkey?
- I have a quick question that I think you can help me to answer; how do you find out the correct ratio between these two things?
- Sorry, but quick question; when are the others going to get here?
- Quick question; why do you always look so gloomy?
- Quick question for you; have you ever looked in a mirror?
- I have a quick question; do you think you could help me with the decorations, or would you rather hang around on your own all day?
We can use “quick question” to ask a serious question where we expect a serious answer. We can also do it when we’re being sarcastic and trying to draw attention to someone’s actions and how unhelpful they currently are to us.
We might also want to do it when we’re insulting somebody. You might have noticed that with the question about looking gloomy or looking in a mirror. You can be insulting or polite depending on your tone of voice when using the phrase.
Examples Of How To Use “Short Question” In A Sentence
It’s not common for people to use “short question” as abruptly as they would “quick question.” We’ll still show you how it looks in sentences, but most people opt to just start with the question rather than worrying about explaining its length.
- I hope you’ll listen to this short question I have. How old are you?
- That was a short question, but I’m willing to give you as long of an answer as you need.
- No short questions here, please. I only want the utmost detail recorded.
- I have a short question that shouldn’t take much of your time. Where were you?
- This is a really short question, but why?
- I’m sorry for throwing all of these short questions at you. Do you think you could answer just one, though?
- These short questions are coming through all over the place, and I don’t know how to answer them.
- I’m not one for asking short questions, but you’re starting to test my patience.
- No short questions were asked. They were all long and full of too many words!
- I have a short question that you might be interested in answering. What have you done?
It’s uncommon to use “short question” as a phrase before asking a question. Most people would much rather ask the question straight away rather than define it as “short.” After all, if it is a short question, most people would already know.
- I have a short question for you. Can you move?
This sentence isn’t typical in English. Most people would simply say:
- Can you move?
The question is short, and people are already aware of that. We don’t often need to draw attention to the fact that there aren’t many words in the question.
How Prevalent Is The Use Of “Small Question”?
Some people also use “small question.” It works in a very similar way to “short question,” but the adjective “small” is a little more common for native speakers to use.
According to Google Ngram Viewer, “small question” is more popular than “short question,” but not as popular as “quick question.” We mostly use it when asking a question without many words in it, but also when expecting a shorter answer.
It’s common for people to use “small question” sarcastically when they’re trying to draw attention to a certain thing. You might see it as follows:
- One small question. Why are you like this?
- That’s all fine, but I have a small question. Did you actually think any of this through?
- Okay, I get what you’re saying. One small question, though. Why do you think we care?
“Small question” mostly works when we want to add further information to something sarcastically or to draw attention to a detail that some people may have overlooked.
What Are “Simple Questions”?
The last adjective we can cover comes from “simple questions.” People often ask “simple questions” for similar reasons to “quick questions;” they expect a short answer.
“Simple questions” are most similar to “quick questions” because they expect a short answer. However, “simple questions” often guarantee that the person you’re speaking to knows what the answer is, while “quick question” sometimes takes that fact for granted.
You might see most people using it aggressively toward someone. They do this by asking a question, but when they don’t get an answer, they say that it’s a “simple question” in the hope that it will force the person to answer quicker.
Again, it can be common for people to use “simple question” sarcastically. They do this when they want to make someone seem stupid if they don’t know how to answer it.
- It’s a simple question, son. Why can’t you answer it?
5 Better Ways To Ask A “Quick Question” In An Email
If you’re writing an email, “quick question” isn’t always the best choice, especially for formal cases. Instead, one of these synonyms might help you to clearly convey a professional message:
- I’m just sending a quick email to ask
- I have a quick question about
- I have a quick favor to ask
- I would like some advice
- I would appreciate some help