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What's he doing?

Is this "what's" contraction the same as:

What's his last name?

What's the last time he showered?

Why or why not?

I ask because the first sentence sounds a little unnatural to me (but I'm not a native English speaker). And the other two sound natural.

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    The first two are perfectly natural, but it should be When was the last time he showered? Oct 12, 2021 at 16:14

2 Answers 2

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"What's he doing" and "What's his last name" sound natural but "What's the last time he showered" sounds unnatural. Instead you should say "When was the last time he showered".

In spoken English you would often contract "when" and "was" to say, "When's the last time he showered".

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Perhaps you already understand this, but to spell it out: "What's" is a contraction of "what is." In all three sentences, "what is" would be grammatical, but there is a difference. The question "What is he doing" is really a re-ordering of the sentence "He is doing what." The verb is "is doing," a progressive (or continuous) tense. In the other two sentences, the "is" in "what's" is the verb all by itself.

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  • Thanks for the explanation. So is "What's he doing?" correct or common?
    – wyc
    Oct 13, 2021 at 13:57
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    It's correct and very common. Oct 13, 2021 at 14:56

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