So I know the first one is correct but a friend of mine asked me for a grammatical reason.

So my question is why don't we use does with help while making a question🙂

Like "what does help people" instead of "what helps people"


2 Answers 2


Welcome to ELL!

"Does" can be used for emphasis, but it isn't necessary here.

If someone tells you, "You don't help people," you might contradict them and say, "I DO help people".

Or if you are asked, "What helps people?" you might say, "I don't know. What DOES help people?"

But most of the time we simply say we help people, or we ask what helps people, and it is the same with any pronoun and with any verb.

  • Would add that "help" is not a special case, nor are questions a special case. Normally you would say "I cook" instead of "I do cook" and "Who cooks?" or "Who's cooking?" instead of "Who does cook?" The word "does" is, of course, required in the negative - "She doesn't cook."
    – cruthers
    Commented Aug 27, 2021 at 0:35

In a question, you use the auxiliary does when the wh- word is NOT the subject of the verb or does not modify the subject:

What does he want? [what is the direct object of want]
What song does he like singing? [what modifies the direct object of like singing]

If what is the subject, there cannot be subject-auxiliary inversion, because being an interrogative word, it needs to head the interrogation:

What helps people? (subject-auxiliary inversion would be **Does what help people?*)

The same goes for what modifying the subject:

What philosophy helps people? (subject-auxiliary inversion would be **Does what philosophy help people?*)

You can find this rule on Wikipedia, too:

Inversion does not occur when the interrogative word is the subject or is contained in the subject. In this case the subject remains before the verb (it can be said that wh-fronting takes precedence over subject–auxiliary inversion).

You must log in to answer this question.

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