Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language Learners Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of other languages learning English. It's 100% free, no registration required.

One of my colleague is single. I want to know does he have any "marriage" experience. Should I say:

Did you get married before?

or

Have you been married before?

share|improve this question
2  
@LasciviousGrace does it fulfill the purpose if that 'you' is divorced? –  Maulik V Aug 18 at 9:13
11  
I'd vote - have you ever been married? –  Maulik V Aug 18 at 9:15
1  
@LasciviousGrace but then "are you married" talks about the current status as it has are. The OP probably wants to know has the listener ever been married in past? He is asking any marriage experience. Are you married can be replied as No, I'm not. If I don't want to show my status of being divorced. However, this all ... I'm thinking from a non-native speaker's mind! –  Maulik V Aug 18 at 9:32
5  
I agree with @MaulikV as far as English is concerned but I'd never ask such a question in real life, it would be considered indiscreet and it also much depends on where one lives, in some parts of the world marriage is only an administrative formality that has nothing to do with a couple living together (of course, I know it's different elsewhere). –  Laure Aug 18 at 9:53
2  
I don't think this question is indiscreet so much as it is somewhat personal. In the US I think it would b odd to ask this of a stranger (except on a date, perhaps), but not a friend. –  Ben Collins Aug 18 at 20:19

5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The question needs more clarity. Also, it's one of my colleagues. We use plural after one of X.

To me, it seems that you know that he's single but asking him the experience of marriage and not the status. Especially your words any marriage experience! This brings up the probability of asking whether the answerer has married at least once in his lifetime. :)

Are you married - you are asking the status and probable answer (in that single case), could be No, I'm not.

I also agree with Lascivious Grace that No, I'm divorced works but then you want to ask the experience of being ever married in past.

I'd ask...

Have you ever been married?

And the answer could be, No, not yet! Or Yes, once but I'm divorced.

This is just my opinion though. Natives might have something in their bags. :)

share|improve this answer
2  
"Have you ever been married?" is precisely the right question to ascertain someone's marriage experience. It is correct even if they are currently married: they can say "yes, I am married right now". –  GreenAsJade Aug 19 at 5:41

Your first sentence isn't a common construction. The only way I'd say "Did you X before?" is when the order of events is part of the question:

"I went for a run"

"Did you stretch before [that]?" (or more likely "Did you stretch beforehand?" or "Did you stretch first?")

So choosing between your two questions I choose the second, but that's because the first is pretty much wrong.

You should be choosing between "Did you ever get married?" and "Have you ever been married?". The former gives the impression that you're asking about the process of getting married (i.e. weddings) and the latter gives the impression that you're asking about married life. So although the answer to either question is the same, you might want to signal which one you're interested in, to help move the conversation along.

share|improve this answer

The correct thing to ask here would be Have you ever been married? Judging from the question, you seem to know for sure that the person is currently single, hence this sentence.

share|improve this answer

"To get married" is the action of going through the actual wedding ceremony. If you ask, "Did you get married before?" it sounds to me like an incomplete sentence, because you are asking if the wedding took place before an event, such as, "Did you get married before the holiday?"

However "to be married" is the state of being married, not the action of the wedding, so I think what you want to ask is "Have you been married before", as you proposed, or "Have you ever been married", as others have suggested.

share|improve this answer

I sometimes find it easier to sort this out by checking in the present tense. Directly converting your two options, you get

Do you get married?

and

Are you married?

#2 clearly makes more sense here, so "have you been married before" should work better as well. "Have you ever been married" works well too, though the two behave slightly differently:

"ever" | "before" |
-------+----------+------------------------------------------------
 TRUE  |  FALSE   | Currently married, never been married before
 TRUE  |  TRUE    | Married to someone in the past, and currently married to another
 TRUE  |  TRUE    | Married to someone in the past, not currently married
 FALSE |  FALSE   | Never been married

You'll note that someone who is currently married for their first time would respond that they've never been married before, while if you ask if they've EVER been married, they'd probably say yes (because "ever" includes the present tense... though depending on context someone might assume you're asking about their past -- for example, if you know they're currently married they could assume you're not counting their current marriage).

share|improve this answer
1  
An interesting approach, but "do you get married" doesn't make sense (unless perhaps you're a Hollywood celebrity who treats it as a hobby to repeat every few months). I'd stick with simply "Are you married?" as that fits your model and is a correct English question that isn't likely to confuse people. –  mc01 Aug 18 at 22:37

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.