2

Which one of the following sentences is correct:

"How Internet helps you?"

"How does Internet help you?"

Is it always mandatory to use "do" in how-questions?

  • "How does the internet help you?" It is not mandatory to have 'do' in your 'how' questions, such as "How can I help you?" – Amber Apr 2 '14 at 13:45
  • Incidentally, I don't see that this question is getting better answers here than it did in ELU. – John Lawler Apr 2 '14 at 14:46
  • related ?: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/17778/… – Hakan Apr 2 '14 at 15:29
5

Of the two examples you quote:

A1) How the Internet helps you?

A2) How does the Internet help you? (subject-operator inversion)

only A2 is correct. Questions like A2 require what is known as a subject-operator inversion. In this case the subject is the Internet and the operator is does. It is called an inversion, because in English a subject usually precedes a verb.

Although subject-operator inversions are frequent in interrogative sentences, there are cases where this inversion doesn't happen. For example:

  • Wh-questions where the wh-word is the subject

    Who are you?

    What is causing that racket?

  • Declarative questions are questions used to ask for a confirmation, e.g.:

    A: She quit her job?

    B: Yes, she did! I couldn't believe it either.

  • Dependent interrogative clauses It is possible to rephrase a question so that it becomes a dependent clause. When this happens the subject-operator inversion disappears:

    I'm asking how the Internet helps you. Could you explain it to me?

  • 1
    Also called subject-auxiliary inversion. By the way, I suggest writing the Internet rather than just Internet. (And I've personally given up on capitalizing internet, though I won't object if you keep doing it.) – snailcar Apr 2 '14 at 23:11
4

OP's example Internet (without the definite article) is a distracting non-standard usage. See “I don't have internet” vs. “I don't have the internet” as previously asked on ELU for further discussion of this).

So to focus on the specific aspect of usage being asked about here (using "do" to frame a question), let's change it to...

1: How Facebook helps you
2: How does Facebook help you?

Notice that in my amended version, I've removed the question mark from #1. That's because it's not a question. It's not even a sentence - it's just a noun phrase. We can see this by considering...

Quantum physics is a complex subject (Noun Phrase + Verb + Noun Phrase)
He explains quantum physics (Pronoun + Verb + Noun Phrase)
He explains how Facebook helps you (Pronoun + Verb + Noun Phrase)


As to whether it's necessary to include do in questions, consider this answer to the earlier ELL question “How it works?” vs. “How does it work?”. Effectively it's not, since these are all valid questions...

How can Facebook help you?
How will Facebook help you?
How could Facebook help you?
How has Facebook helped you?
How is Facebook helping you?
etc., etc.

That's to say, the interrogative (how, in this case) must be followed by an auxiliary verb, but there are many others besides to do that can perform this function in questions.

2

"How does the Internet help you?"

As there is only one Internet, you need the definite article "the" in front of it.

You do not need to always use "do" with a "how" question. You could, for example, ask, "How is the Internet helpful to you?" or "How can the Internet help you?" or "How long has the Internet existed?" "How do/does" questions ask in what manner one performs some task or the manner in which something is affected. I'm not sure that I could catalog all the types of things you could ask with "how", but that's only one of them.

  • I can't agree that flip "there is only one Internet" explanation. There's only one Facebook too, but whereas you can find someone on the Internet and find them on Facebook, you wouldn't normally switch usage of the definite article with either of those. When this question was originally posted on ELU it should have been closed as a duplicate of “I don't have internet” vs. “I don't have the internet”?, not migrated here. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 2 '14 at 14:13
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    That's not the reason to use do, either. One uses do whenever a construction (like a question or a negative) requires an auxiliary verb but there is none. You go get one, and the one that's available free of charge is do. It has no meaning and is merely holding open the First Auxiliary Verb slot so that the rule that swaps the Subject and the First Auxiliary Verb can operate. Otherwise there'd be nothing to indicate it's a question. – John Lawler Apr 2 '14 at 14:44
  • @John: It seems to me that in "How does this help?", the verb to do does indeed "have no meaning", which is why non-native speakers are prone to omitting it completely. But in "Does this help?", it does mean something. Admittedly not much, since in casual conversational contexts it's often "destressed/elided" to "D'zis help?", and the initial /d/ may be discarded completely - even though in the speaker's mind, he probably still thinks he's including the word "does" simply because he says /z/ rather than /th/ (apologies for not doing the IPA thingy properly! :) – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 2 '14 at 15:08
  • @FumbleFingers RE "the Internet". Fair enough. The difference is whether a word is viewed as a name, or as a title or description. We don't use articles with proper names, like we don't say, "I gave it to the Fred Smith." We do use "the" with titles and descriptive terms, like, "I gave it to the assistant manager". So a more complete answer would include that "Internet" is viewed as a title or descriptive term and not a proper name. Of course here I'm talking in circles. Why do we use "the"? Because it's a title. How do we know it's a title? Because we always use it with "the". – Jay Apr 2 '14 at 20:09
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    There are several uses of do. One (do-support) is meaningless; the Act do of What I want to do is direct is not a do-support do, as you can tell from the fact that they can be used together: Did you do it yet?. The first do is do-support, the second is Act. There are lots of uses for auxiliary verbs; some of them are meaningless, like dummy subjects, and others have some semantics. But the constructions determine. – John Lawler Apr 2 '14 at 20:22

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