Which one of these sentences is grammatically correct?

  • Why did the writer use this word?
  • Why does the writer use this word?
  • Both, although your question is not clear. I think you mean, "When we discuss an author's works, should we use past or present tenses?"
    – Yuri
    Feb 17, 2017 at 10:50
  • actually, I want to ask question on this website (ell), so I'm wondering which form I should use.
    – Shannak
    Feb 17, 2017 at 10:53
  • 3
    Grammatically both sentences are correct, but "Hamburgers eat cows" is also grammatically correct. You need to provide a context in which you intend to use one of these sentences.
    – Yuri
    Feb 17, 2017 at 11:01
  • This is the context: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/119754/…
    – Shannak
    Feb 17, 2017 at 11:07
  • You can find your answer here: Tense usage with dead writers' work
    – Yuri
    Feb 17, 2017 at 11:15

1 Answer 1


You would use "did" to indicate a single (or repeated) occurrence of something in the past.

You would use "does" to indicate a repeated or regular occurrence of something in the present.

In this case, either works when talking about a written work. The writer wrote it in the past, but you are reading it in the present. The only difference is your own personal point of view -- are you making this comment from the POV of the writer, or from you as the reader?

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .