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I don't know where to use "DOES" & "IS" in question sentences... I know, we use "does" and "is" with singular verbs but, I don't know how to use them in question sentences...

Like, "Does this work?" OR "Is this work?"

"Is she like dinner?" OR "does she like dinner?"

So, please help me... if anyone can explain me in a simpler form then it would be really fantastic... or can give me a trick.

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    In Does this work?, the last word is a verb (you're asking whether this thing functions as required), but in Is this work? it's a noun (you're asking whether this activity should be classified as "work", or "play", for example). And Is she like dinner? is unlikely, since it would mean Is she similar to dinner? Feb 12 at 12:00
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    Very similar questions have been asked before, and I'm always a little surprised. This is a foundation of English grammar, and must be taught at an early stage. It is a lot more basic that the conditional form with a modal verb "if anybody can help me..." or the negative indicative with an infinitive "I don't know how to use them..."
    – James K
    Feb 12 at 14:51
  • You need to look up: present simple tense and forms in English. The verb to be, in English.
    – Lambie
    Feb 12 at 21:31

3 Answers 3

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Since all your examples are questions, I suspect you’re having problems with inversion.

To turn any statement into a question, we have to invert the subject and verb:

  • You are hungry.
  • Are you hungry? ✓

However, in modern English, we are only allowed to invert certain verbs: “be”, “do” and (only in BrE) “have”. These happen to be the three key auxiliary verbs, but it’s allowed even when they’re lexical verbs.

If you need to invert any other verb, you have to first add one of those two/three as an auxiliary verb (usually “do”), and then invert that:

  • You like donuts.

  • Like you donuts? ✗

  • You do like donuts.

  • Do you like donuts? ✓

  • You have a fever.

  • Have you a fever? ✓ BrE, ✗ AmE

  • You do have a fever.

  • Do you have a fever? ✓

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  • What about is? Is he ready?
    – Lambie
    Feb 12 at 21:34
  • @Lambie “is” is a form of “be”.
    – StephenS
    Feb 12 at 23:23
  • I know but I bet he doesn't. :) Be in a pain as one always has to spell it out. The merit of your answer is that it is the simplest, lingo-wise.
    – Lambie
    Feb 12 at 23:34
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Two of the most basic simple present tense sentence patterns

  1. Subject-verb-(object).

This works → Does this work?

He likes dinner → Does he like dinner.

  1. Subject be-verb complement

This is rice → Is this rice?


The only slight difficulty is that the word "work" can be a verb "I work, you work, he works", or a noun "Work is fun. I enjoy my work. This is work." This allows a grammatically correct but unusual sentence

This is work. → Is this work?

The word "like" can be a verb "I like rice" (meaning I enjoy rice). It is also an unrelated adjective meaning "similar" . "Couscous is like rice". This allows an grammatically correct sentence

Couscous is like rice → Is couscous like rice.

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If the verb in the corresponding statement is a form of be, the verb in the question will be the same form of be:

He is/you are/I am here -> Is he/Are you/Am I here?

(For some speakers, the same can apply if the verb is have: You have a pen -> Have you a pen?. More common now is Do you have a pen?, treating "have" like a normal verb)

If the verb in the corresponding statement has any auxiliary (be, have or modals such as would, can_. will, use that auxiliary:

You are eating -> Are you eating? (be auxiliary for continuous constructions)

It was knocked down -> Was it knocked down? (be auxiliary for passive)

They have gone -> Have they gone? (have auxiliary for perfect construction)

You can/will/must go -> Can/will/must you go? (modal auxiliary)

For any other case (ie a verb without an auxiliary), you need do (in the right form for person and tense)

She went home -> Did she go home?

So for your examples:

This is work -> Is this work? (i.e. "Is this something that somebody does as their work?")

but

This works -> Does this work? (i.e. "Is this functioning correctly?")

She likes dinner -> Does she like dinner? (no auxiliary in the statement).

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  • Colin, my problem with your answer and James' answer is their complexity. You start using words like corresponding and auxiliary when the OP knows so little can't possibly help, do you think? And then you mention modals. It's too much for this person, in my view.
    – Lambie
    Feb 12 at 21:33

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