I sometimes see questions on Stack Overflow which ask

"How <technology> works?"

I always thought that this is an incorrect use and it should be

"How does <technology> work?"

However, I now see such a sentence on a website of a company I'm a customer of. They have a FAQ

  1. How CppDepend licensing works?

So my question is: is that correct use of English? If so, why? What's the rule behind it?


Strictly speaking, you are correct about the question. The proper form is

How does X work?

The slightly shorter form

How X works?

should be thought of as an elided version, omitting "does" because the meaning remains reasonably clear, even though the formal grammar is not quite correct.

When making a statement as opposed to asking a question, a full sentence might be:

I want to describe how X works.

This can be elided to simply:

How X works

particularly in a title or section header, where brevity is of significant value. In a non-question use, "does" is not needed, and would in fact be incorrect.

  • 1
    Yet another unexplained down vote. That is pointless, it doesn't help me improve the answer, nor does it help readers understand in what way the downvoter thinks the question is lacking, nor does it help someone else to find a better answer. ,Such down votes should be prohibited. – David Siegel Jul 23 '19 at 16:03

If you are asking a question, the proper form would be

How does X work?

However, if you are trying to explain, the correct answer would be

How X works

  • Please consider adding in some reasoning for this and referencing sources :) – Gamora Jul 23 '19 at 16:28
  • @Bee My source is school lol – William Jul 25 '19 at 0:17
  • It was just advise on writing a better answer as per the ELL help pages. Usually you'll know the answer, but finding an extrenal link to back it up is best practice. – Gamora Jul 25 '19 at 9:08

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