1. What did you play?/What did you eat?
  2. What you played ?/What you ate?

I am confused between above type of sentence, can anybody help me out. Whit proper grammatical explanation.


1 Answer 1


The sentences in line 1 are properly formed sentences in question form. That is they each have a subject (you in both cases); an auxilliary verb in the past tense (did in both cases) and a main verb (play / eat). These sentences are questions because they both start with the same question word (what) and the order of the subject and auxilliary verb are reversed (in a statement the subject comes first and the verb second, for example "You did play football" and "You did eat a burger").

The phrases in line 2 are not sentences because they start with the question word what but the subject and verb are not reversed from the normal statement form. They could be noun phrases forming the object of the verb in longer sentences, for example "Please tell me what you ate." but they are not valid sentences on their own.

A long time ago they could have been turned into questions with the same meaning by reversing the order of the subject and the verb, for example "What played you?" but that is not used any more. "What ate you?" is still a valid sentence but does not mean "What did you eat?" it means that something (possibly a lion or a shark) ate the person or thing that you are talking to. In the majority of cases you would not expect an answer!

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .