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Questions & Answers 2 (Past) - Elementary / Pre-intermediate - Useful Language

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Questions and Answers 02: Q&A about the past with Be, Have & Other Verbs + Who/What = subject

Listen! Listen external link

Remember this: Notice the word order, the syntax, in these questions:

Which is the main verb in each of the questions?

There are two kinds of verbs:

Auxiliaries (aux) are verbs that help the main verb. How? By saying something about the subject (which person it is) and by saying something about the tense (present simple, past simple, present cont.…)

Main verbs (V) are verbs that name the action. You cannot visualize an auxiliary, you see nothing. But you can always visualize the main verb. For example, if I say, Do you speak English?, you cannot visualize "do", it's an auxiliary, it only tells us that it's a question in the present simple tense and that it is not the 3rd person singular! However, you can visualize "speak", you see someone speaking!

When the main verb is "to be", the pattern for the question is Verb + Subject…?

When the main verb is any other verb, the question goes Aux + Subject + Verb…?


Remember: in the Simple Tenses (present & past simple) the aux is "do" (in the present, do, does; in the past, did) and the V is in the bare infinitive. (There are 2 exceptions I will tell you about later on.)

The two exceptions I mentioned before are these:

With "Who" and "What" as the subject of the question, as in "Who called?" and as in "What happened?" In this case, the Subject has to come first, of course, so the verb takes the form it takes in statements (not questions), whether + or - . My advice is you start by learning this by ear:

The second exception relates to the verb "have". When "to have" indicates possession, in British English it follows the syntax of "be" as a main verb:

But when the verb "have" has other meanings, it operates like all the other verbs, in terms of syntax or word order:

Remember that "have" has a lot of meanings!: