starred / did star [did vs simple past]

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novice_81

Senior Member
German
Hi

How many actors starred in this movie?

--- I'm just wondering why shouldn't I use the word "did" here, i.e. "How many actors did star in this movie?" We usually use "did" or inversion in questions,eg. Who did you see?, How many people were there?, How did you get there? etc. and in the above example we do not have to do it and it's correct?

Thanks
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    It's because it's subject: there's no inversion, since the question word replaces something that's already at the front.

    Three actors starred in this movie.
    Who starred in this movie?
    How many actors starred in this movie?
     

    bluegiraffe

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hi

    How many actors starred in this movie?

    --- I'm just wondering why shouldn't I use the word &quot;did&quot; here, i.e. &quot;How many actors did star in this movie?&quot; We usually use &quot;did&quot; or inversion in questions,eg. Who did you see?, How many people were there?, How did you get there? etc. and in the above example we do not have to do it and it's correct?

    Thanks
    I'm confused. "How many actors starred in the movie" fits in perfectly with your example of inversion above. "How many people were there?" "How many actors starred" - it's the same thing, just a different verb.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    A moved question word causes subject-auxiliary inversion. Where there is no auxiliary (as in 'saw') it has to be converted to use the auxiliary 'do':

    You saw someone.
    (You did see someone.)
    Who did you see?

    There were seven people.
    How many people were there?

    You got there somehow.
    (You did get there somehow.)
    How did you get there?
     

    bluegiraffe

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I see Novice - I read your question as "how many people were there/how many people were in that place." That's why I saw no difference in your question and the actor question.

    Is it that we don't invert with "How many"?

    I'm sorry Entangled bank, I don't understand your post as my knowledge of grammatical terms is limited to what I learnt learning other languages - I don't know if your post is in answer to mine?
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    "How many people were there?" "How many actors starred" - it's the same thing, just a different verb.
    'How many people were there?' is two different sentences. In one, 'there' is the preposition meaning "in that place" (traditionally called an adverb), and has a stress. In this case, 'how many people' is subject and there is no inversion:

    'Five 'people were 'there.
    How many 'people were 'there?

    In the other, 'there' is the unstressed subject pronoun, 'how many people' is a non-subject, and inversion takes place:

    There were 'five 'people.
    How many 'people 'were there?

    (My post #5 was before I saw bluegiraffe's first.)
     
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