What were you doing/What did you do yesterday all day

  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    No. "All day" is an adverbial phrase, = for the whole day, and needs to follow its verb:

    What were you doing all day yesterday.

    or

    What did you do all day yesterday.

    Both are considered informal/colloquial.
     

    Englishisgreat

    Senior Member
    German
    Thank you PaulQ.

    And can you say: What were you doing at 6 o'clock yesterday evening or What were you doing yesterday evening at 6 o'clock?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I think that the word order will depend on the context rather than which appears more frequently.

    A: What were you doing yesterday evening?
    B: I was watching TV.
    A: "What time was that?"
    B: "Seven o'clock."
    A: "What were you doing yesterday evening at 6 o'clock?" - the emphasis contrasts with "seven o'clock."

    A: "What were you doing at 6 o'clock yesterday evening?" - This is a precise question.
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    English - SSBE Standard British
    I think that the word order will depend on the context rather than which appears more frequently.

    A: What were you doing yesterday evening?
    B: I was watching TV.
    A: "What time was that?"
    B: "Seven o'clock."
    A: "What were you doing yesterday evening at 6 o'clock?" - the emphasis contrasts with "seven o'clock."

    A: "What were you doing at 6 o'clock yesterday evening?" - This is a precise question.
    Agreed. I was thinking of police interrogations :)
     

    Englishisgreat

    Senior Member
    German
    Many thanks for your feedback.

    It also depends on the question you make to answer with Past Continuous or Simple Past.

    What were you doing last night?

    I was walking in the park last night.

    What did you do last night?

    I walked in the park last night.

    I think both are correct, but the structure with Past continuous is more common in Spoken English, isn't it ?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    the past continuous is more common in Spoken English, isn't it ?
    I suspect that it is. It is a useful form of the verb as (i) it gives an immediacy to the words spoken (ii) it allows a second action to take place at the same time, e.g. "I was watching the TV when he came in."
     
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