Discussion in 'English Only' started by summerday08, Mar 30, 2009.

  1. summerday08 Member


    It is quite difficult for me to know why we invert the subject and verb after wh-questions in some cases and we don't do that in others?????
    can u help!!!
    what happened?
    what did happen?

    who wrote Hamlet?
    Who did write Hamlet?

    why you said that?
    why did you say that?

  2. curlyboy20 Senior Member

    Lima, Peru.
    Peruvian Spanish.
  3. ace02nc Senior Member

    English - United States
    The first two are not incorrect, but they take on a a more emphatic meaning when the word "did" is added. These versions would be used with a more impatient, and direct tone:

    A: "That's not what happened."
    B: "What did happen?"

    A: "Dante didn't write Hamlet."
    B: "Who did write Hamlet?"

    The third one is simply incorrect, as Curlyboy noted.
  4. curlyboy20 Senior Member

    Lima, Peru.
    Peruvian Spanish.
    I agree with ace02nc. You would use "did" in the first two sentences to give more emphasis, but you wouldn't just go up to someone and casually ask, "What did happen?"
  5. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hi summerday08

    We only avoid use of "do/did" when the "Wh-" question word is the subject of the verb:
    Something happened =>
    What happened?

    Someone came early =>
    Who came early?

    In all other cases, we use "do/did":

    I saw something =>
    What did you see?
    How did you see it?
    When did you see it?
    Where did you see it?
    Why did you see it?
  6. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    The general rule is that the inflected verb (the one that carries the tense marking or singular/plural marking) is the one that comes after the wh- word. As mentioned above all your examples are grammatical except for 'why you said that?' where the word after the wh- word is not an inflected verb: that is the reason for the insertion of did.

    (Of course, some centuries ago, this was achieved by moving the verb, so: 'Why said you that?' This is generally not used, but survives in some set phrases like 'What say you?' instead of 'What do you say?')

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