This site says:

4: We can also use the present simple for short actions that are happening now. The actions are so short that they are finished almost as soon as you've said the sentence. This is often used with sports commentary, or in demonstrations.

He takes the ball, he runs down the wing, and he scores!

First I put some butter in the pan and turn on the cooker.

Here is a scene in a movie.

A: We should end our relationship here

B: Fine

C-a friend of both A & B, has just passed by & says: Do you guys break up?

A, B & C are Americans

So, does the sentence Do you guys break up? fall into the above use of simple present tense (The actions are so short that they are finished almost as soon as you've said the sentence)?

But I would say it is better if C says: Have you guys just broken up? to mention something that has just happened.

So, "Do you guys break up?" or "Have you guys just broken up?" Which one is better?

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    This would be a question for the learning English site. ("Do you guys break up?" is meaningless and wrong.)
    – Joe Blow
    Jan 14, 2017 at 12:58
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    Hey Tom, (a) you heard it wrong (b) it was deliberately "Yoda-speak" (if you see what I mean) or (c) some other factor is at play. It's meaningless. Just forget it - no more interesting than a typo.
    – Joe Blow
    Jan 14, 2017 at 13:01
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    {There could be some very subtle "twisted-English" comedic meaning, such as: "Is the nature of your relationship such that you actually never breakup though you seemingly often breakup" .. or whatever .. but it's just irrelevant. Anyway it's a question for the learning English site.}
    – Joe Blow
    Jan 14, 2017 at 13:02
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    You should be aware that “Do you” and “Did you” in most varieties of English can both be pronounced [ʤuː]. In this case, it seems almost certain that C actually said, “Did you guys break up?”. The type of simple-present usage described in your quote does not apply here, and as Joe says, “Do you guys break up?” makes little to no sense. It would, at best, be taken as a habitual present: “Is breaking up something you guys tend to do a lot?”, which wouldn’t fit the context of their friend passing by and making a casual remark. Jan 14, 2017 at 13:06
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    @JimmyBreck-McKye “You guys break up?” is neither slang, nor idiom, nor ungrammatical. Eliding the auxiliary in questions like this is part of Conversational Deletion, which is perfectly grammatical. It is heavily associated with colloquial speech, so your advice that it should not be used in formal contexts is sound; but it violates no rule of grammar in any register—only of style. Jan 14, 2017 at 14:12

2 Answers 2


Did you guys just break up?

Is the most common way to ask this if the event is very recent.

Did you guys break up?

Is how you would ask if the you have no notion or idea of when it may have happened.

Do you guys break up?

Implies that the couple may break up regularly.

Have you guys just broken up?

Is a slightly more formal way to phrase the first question.


"Have you guys just broken up" is better. If you say "do you guys break up", it makes it sounds like you're asking them if they do it often, but that wouldn't make sense because break ups just happen once. But even better would be to say "Did you guys break up?"

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    “Did you guys break up?” is almost certainly what the character in the film did say. Jan 14, 2017 at 16:09
  • What about, "Hey, guys, didn't you break up just now?". Btw, present continuous could be possible, "Are you guys breaking up?" Apr 21, 2017 at 18:27

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