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When should you ask a question with "do", and when with "are"? In other words,

Are you going to Spain next week?

Do you like Chinese food?

What is the rule here? We don't say

Do you go to Spain next week?

Are you liking Chinese food?

Why is that?

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    Are you liking Chinese food? is probably never idiomatic outside of "Indian English", but Do you go to Spain next week? can certainly be perfectly natural in some contexts (for example, with you emphasised, within a conversation where it's already been mentioned that some [other] people are indeed going to Spain next week). May 14, 2017 at 15:50
  • ...others may think different, but in the context I put forward above I think the nuance of difference between 1) Do you go to Spain next week? and 2) Are you going to Spain next week? is that the do- version focuses more on your current status (as one of the people selected to go next week), where the as- version puts more emphasis on the matter of something you might or will do in the future. May 14, 2017 at 15:57
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    And then there's the McDonald's commercial, "I'm Lovin' It"
    – Xanne
    May 15, 2017 at 4:58

1 Answer 1

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As statements, your two examples would be:

  • You like Chinese food
  • You are going to Spain next week

Next, find the main verb:

  • You like Chinese food
  • You are going to Spain next week

Now you need to figure out if the verb is an auxiliary verb. If it is, then it is what's inverted in subject-auxiliary inversion:

  • Are you going to Spain next week?

If there is no auxiliary, you need to add the proper form of do. It will be the auxiliary that is inverted:

  • Do you like Chinese food?

This is a type of do-support.

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  • What about need? "I need a rope" we can either ask "Need you a rope?" or "Do you need a rope?" May 16, 2017 at 6:31
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    @SovereignSun That's part of figuring out if something is a modal or not. But it is tricky, since some verbs are modals in some cases and not in others. As this post explains, need is sometimes modal, sometimes not. Another example is do, as it is not a modal in "You did your homework". Therefore, "Did you your homework?" is wrong, while "Did you do your homework?" is right.
    – Laurel
    May 16, 2017 at 15:16

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