Consider the following sentence.

Meera asked her mother-in-law, “__ you like something to drink before dinner?”

The four options are would, do, will and did. The correct answer is would.

I am confused between would and do. It appears to me that both are correct answers.

Why is it more appropriate to use would here?


"Do you like something to drink before dinner" would be asking much more generally whether before dinners they like to drink something. It is an unlikely question and if it were to be asked it would be better phrased as "Do you like to have a drink before dinner?"

"Would you like something to drink before dinner" would be asking if they wanted to have a drink before the specific dinner that was coming up. This is a far more common question and sounds more natural. It may imply that the asker will provide the drink (such as asking a guest at your home) or it may imply that they will get a drink together (such as when asking someone you are at a restaurant with)


The primary meaning of like refers to a long-standing attitude. So Do you like X is asking about your general likes, not about what you want at that moment.

There is a second meaning of like, which is something like "choose at a particular moment", but it can only have that meaning after a few modals, such as would, might, may. (As far as I can think, will does not trigger this meaning).

So in offering something, you can say Would you like X?, but not Do you like X?

For completeness, I should say that it is possible to offer something using Do you like X?, but the words are not an offer. The implication is something like "If you like X, then you might want to take one".

  • 1
    Good point about the fact that Do you like X? is NOT an "offer". So much so that if there is in fact some X being handed out at the same time as someone asking whether you like it, it's at least possible to respond with any of the four permutations. 1: I like X and I want X and 2: I don't like X and I don't want X are obvious, but you might also respond with 3: I do like X usually, but I don't want any now, thank you and 4: I don't like X [very much], but I do want some now, please. – FumbleFingers Dec 1 '20 at 17:39

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