Suppose a child is accused of misbehaviour and the parent wants to know what the child has done. Would it be okay to ask the child: "what have you done?" or should they say "what did you do?". Is there a difference in nuance? Does "what have you done?" sound more accusatory?


What have you done?

does sound as an accusation in this situation. However, I don't think what did you do? is particularly better. If you want to avoid anguishing the child, you could say:

(Can you tell me) what happened?

or, showing more concern

(Can you tell me) what happened to you?

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