When I can use "are" or "do" to ask a question? For example if I want to call a restaurant to ask if they open or not during a holiday, which question is right?

Are you open today?


Do you open today?

  • If somebody actually answers the phone, it's very likely that they are open—or will be opening shortly, anyway. In other words, if the phone is answered, I would ask, When do you open today? Assuming the fact of the phone being answered didn't already tell me they were open. – Jason Bassford Feb 20 '19 at 19:34

Are you open today? - This is like saying "Are you open right now?"

Do you open today? - Sounds like "Will you open today?"

They're both pretty interchangeable, however if I called a business to find out if they were open, I'd almost certainly ask the first question.

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  • Good answer. "Are" = present tense. "Do" = future tense. – xizdaqrian Feb 20 '19 at 16:34
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    @xizdaqrian: Not always. "Do you like opera?" "Do you take sugar in your tea?" "Do you want a muffin?" – SamBC Feb 20 '19 at 16:41
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    I agree with @SamBC on this, however I think that it depends on the context. – Bodrov Feb 20 '19 at 16:44
  • Good responses. I was a little too focused on the particular question at hand. Thanks – xizdaqrian Feb 20 '19 at 16:48

They are different questions.

You would ask "are you open today?" if you are calling/emailing/messaging when you would expect them to be open (if they were open that day), or at least when you would expect staff to be in. For example, calling a shop during their normal opening hours, or a restaurant once they should be serving.

You would ask "do you open today?" if the shop had never opened before and you wanted to find out if today was their opening day - but not only then. When else you would use it depends on dialect. I've spoken to people who's native dialect would use it if you were calling, emailing etc before you would expect them to open, such as calling a restaurant in the morning before it opens for lunch. For that situation, other dialects use "will you open today?" or "will you be open today?".

In your situation, to be safest, you want "are you open today?"

Grammatically, the word open has different roles in the different versions. In the first, it is an adjective. In the second, it is a verb. In the third, it is still a verb, and in the fourth it is back to being an adjective.

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  • Looking at the nightmarish nuances of verbs like 'to do' and the instances when they can be used makes me so grateful I never had to learn English at school. – fred2 Feb 20 '19 at 16:36
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    The crazy thing is that (as I am told by linguists/philologists) English ended up with these nightmarish nuances because it became simpler. English has some features of a pidgin or creole, leading to such things as our ludicrously small number of forms for most verbs and our lack of case except with some pronouns. But there was the need to express a range of things, so our range of modals and auxiliaries developed. – SamBC Feb 20 '19 at 16:40

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