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How is it similar to the question "What kept you busy yesterday?" Which one is correct and wrong? Also, please explain the rule of the wrong sentence.

1 Answer 1

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People usually keep busy doing something, or keep other people busy.

The question:

  • What kept you busy yesterday?

is used to ask for the subject of the sentence, that is, for the thing that took up your time and stopped you from doing other things. Since what is being asked for is the subject, no auxiliary is used (see that the pattern of the question is reflected by the one in the answer):

A- What kept you busy yesterday?

B- Work kept me busy yesterday.

If the subject is a person, "who" will be used:

A- Who kept you busy yesterday?

B- My boss kept me busy yesterday.

The question:

  • What did you keep busy yesterday?

can only be correct in the unlikely case that "what" asks for the direct object, that is, for the thing that "you" kept busy, for example:

A- What did you keep busy yesterday?

B- I kept the machine busy yesterday.

If the direct object is a person, which is much more usual, "who" (or the more formal "whom") will be used:

A- Who did you keep busy yesterday?

B- I kept my employee busy yesterday.

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