I messaged my friend asking if a person(say Mr. ABC) replies to his messages. So I texted him saying: " Does Mr. ABC reply to your messages?"

He corrected me saying that it was "did" and not "does"

I told him that I was right in using "does" and gave the following explanation:

Did is used when you have told me that you had sent him a message and then I ask if he replied to you. Basically boiling down to which action was done first.

Does is used in a more general sense when you want to gather information about something by asking a question and when the said action hasn't been done yet.

Usage of 'did' Eg: I tell you to check if Mr ABC eats the oranges. So afterwards, I'll come and ask you: did Mr ABC eat the oranges?

Usage of 'does'

Eg: I would like to know if Mr ABC eats oranges or not so that I can know what I must offer him. So, does Mr ABC eat oranges?

Is my reasoning right?

  • In this context either does or will can be used. – Lucian Sava Apr 26 at 13:08

Yes, the reasoning is correct.

In asking whether Mr. ABC replies to your messages,

Does Mr. ABC reply to your messages?

asks whether Mr. ABC will reply to messages based on past experience. This is similar to asking, "If you leave a message, will he reply?"

Compared to

Did Mr. ABC reply to your messages?

which is asking whether Mr. ABC has replied to a message that has already been left. This is similar to asking, "Has Mr. ABC replied to the message(s) that you left for him?"

  • The key distinction is that the "does" form is referring to the general pattern of behavior, while the "did" form would be specific to a particular set of messages. – Monty Harder Apr 26 at 17:36

Your usage is correct, and your reasoning is also pretty much in line with this:

The simple present tense is one of several forms of present tense in English. It is used to describe habits, unchanging situations, general truths, and fixed arrangements. - Education First (emphasis mine.)

The simple past tense, sometimes called the preterite, is used to talk about a completed action in a time before now. - ditto

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