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  • Have you met her before
  • Are/were you met her before

Which one is correct? If both are correct then in which situations should they be used?

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Although are/were are used to form questions, they don't work with met. It should be have you met [her] before? (If these two people are both present, her is not necessary; you only need it if you're talking about someone who's not there at the time).

In questions that use subject auxiliary inversion (e.g. when You are ... becomes Are you ...?), and that don't use interrogatives (e.g. who/what/where/etc.), there is an easy way to tell whether or not you're using the correct auxiliary: simply rearrange the sentence to see if it makes sense as a statement.

For example:

Are you met before? You are met before.

-versus-

Have you met before? You have met before.

The second is the only one that makes sense. That's the easiest way to figure it out.

You do have one other option here; you could use do as the auxiliary. But in this case, it can't be used with met. You'd have to switch the verb to know for that to work. And it would need to be in the present tense. The rule that I've mentioned above still applies:

Do you met her? You do met her.

-versus-

Do you know her? You do know her.

You'll know to use know because it agrees with do in tense (i.e. both simple present).

Most often, these types of questions use have, had, or do.

Questions involving forms of to be (e.g. are/were), are generally about states of being/existential, mood/feelings/emotional states, location, and actions about to occur: (e.g. Are we going to leave now?, Are you there?, Are you mad?, Were they at the party?, etc.).

Depending on the context and temporal factors, you might be able to use did. This would make the main verb present tense though. If this is after the fact, you could instead say:

Did you meet her? You did meet her.

Did you know her [back then]? You did know her [back then].

2

When I want to ask someone if they know another someone, I usually use either "Have you met her before?", or "Do you know her?"

Using "Are/were you met her before?" will make it look like a passive voice, but, it is not grammatically correct. At least it will need by, then it might make some sense. But then again, I've never heard anyone said "Are/were you met by her before?" before. So I say, don't use it.

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The more common usage is, "have you met her before." This is a past participle construction.

The other usage, are you met her? is a "state" construction that is archaic. President Abraham Lincoln used it in his Gettysburg Address (1863): "We are met on a great battlefield of that [Civil] war." But it has seen little use since then.

  • 2
    We are met is only employed when meet is intransitive. – StoneyB Dec 1 '13 at 16:10
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    We are/were met in that usage is not archaic. We were met by a formidable opponent. When we try [have tried] to enter the perimeter of the building, we're [have been] met by fierce resistance from demonstrators. – Giambattista Dec 1 '13 at 18:19
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The sentence fragment

Were you met

is not ungrammatical, but it begins a passive construction which has to be completed properly with a phrase which specifies the agent: to be met (by someone or something, or with something) is the passive version of meet.

The proposal to build an oil pipeline was met with opposition.

Stepping out of the limousine, Justin Timberlake was met by a throng of squealing female fans.

But

Were you met her before

is ungrammatical, because the passive "you were meet" requires a prepositional phrase based on "by":

Were you met by her before.

English speakers are very unlikely to use this sentence, even though it may be grammatical. The reason is that the above sentence is the passive form of this one:

Did she meet you before?

The third person being discussed (she) is the agent of the action ("to meet") and the person we are speaking to is the object. This is an unusual point of view to take.

When we speak to someone about meeting some third person, we take the point of view of the person we are speaking to as being the agent of the meeting, and that third person as being the object. Simply:

Did you meet her before?

Reversing the point of view for this verb is quite awkward, and then turning it into a passive sentence just makes it more awkward.

  • What's the object of were you met? It's a fragment. Passive voice requires an object. You cannot elide that, it sounds illiterate. Also, in AmE, were you met by her before? is not grammatically correct. And I suspect Brits would object to it as well. Meet isn't really a verb used in questions beginning with <to be>. I do, however, agree that native speakers are unlikely to say did she meet you? It's not passive voice, but it's passive point of view by nature. – Giambattista Dec 3 '13 at 20:08
  • ^ This comment adds nothing of value to the answer. "Were you met" is clearly designated as a fragment in the answer, and not offered as a complete sentence. The answer makes it clear that "were you met by her before" is strange. Yet, it is not ungrammatical by any means. "You don't hear people use that exact sentence in my neck of the woods because they express the same thing with another sentence" is not the litmus test for whether or not a clause is grammatical. – Kaz Dec 3 '13 at 20:24
  • I think specifying that were you met and were you met by her before are ungrammatical as written does improve your answer. That's not based on my neck of the woods; it's Standard English. You can say, were you met by her at the door; but you can't use it as written. It's confusing, and it doesn't belong. It may have been grammatical at one point, but it's not in Modern AmE. This isn't a personal attack, it's meant to improve your answer, which I mostly agree with. But, strictly speaking, fragments aren't grammatical. Be questions usually don't involve actions. – Giambattista Dec 3 '13 at 20:30
  • ^ I didn't write that fragment is grammatical; I wrote that it wasn't ungrammatical, which is quite different. – Kaz Dec 3 '13 at 20:36
  • I re-read, and I don't see anything about fragments. What you actually explain regarding that construction is that met is intransitive. not ungrammatical=grammatically correct=OK to use as is. When you tell someone that a fragment is not ungrammitical, it means that they can use it that way, which can't be done here. – Giambattista Dec 3 '13 at 20:37

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