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In the sentences:

(1) Who takes out the garbage twice a week?

(2) Who does Michelle see once a month?

Why do we need the auxiliary verb "does" in No. (2) grammatically, instead of saying

Who Michelle sees once a month?

And what is the difference between the two sentences that makes the auxiliary "does" necessary in No. (2)?

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    The difference is that in 1) "who" is the subject. It's located in the usual subject position, before the verb. The declarative counterpart would be "X takes out the garbage twice a week". In 2) "who" is also fronted, but it is not the subject: "Michelle" is the subject, and "who" is the object of "see" ("Michelle sees "who" once a month"). The fronting of a non-subject interrogative word is normally accompanied by subject-auxiliary inversion, hence the insertion of the dummy auxiliary "does" before the subject "Michelle".
    – BillJ
    Dec 5, 2016 at 18:56
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    @BillJ has it right, I think, and that really should be an answer -- even as it stands. Dec 6, 2016 at 0:12

1 Answer 1

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In a comment, BillJ wrote:

The difference is that in 1) "who" is the subject. It's located in the usual subject position, before the verb. The declarative counterpart would be "X takes out the garbage twice a week". In 2) "who" is also fronted, but it is not the subject: "Michelle" is the subject, and "who" is the object of "see" ("Michelle sees "who" once a month"). The fronting of a non-subject interrogative word is normally accompanied by subject-auxiliary inversion, hence the insertion of the dummy auxiliary "does" before the subject "Michelle".

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