When do you use is and does in a question?

I was talking to a native speaker online and he said something like What is "acting dumb" consist of? That construction got me confused because it should be What does "acting dumb" consist of? Then I would answer It consists of this, and this and that...

I could be completely wrong but is doesn't sound right to me.

  • 3
    Did he say, "What's "acting dumb" consist of?"? If so, in speech, that means "What does..."
    – gotube
    Jun 15, 2023 at 2:07
  • Hi, studentxxy - did you look up how to form questions in English? Any reference on forming questions in English should be able to answer your question.
    – stangdon
    Jun 15, 2023 at 2:12
  • I guess it is a matter of understanding that what's is a short for what does, not of word order used in questions.
    – apaderno
    Jun 15, 2023 at 8:41
  • 1
    Notice that, when you say I was talking, people usually understand you are speaking to that person or using the sign language to communicate.
    – apaderno
    Jun 15, 2023 at 11:56
  • 1
    Then it's just bad grammar.
    – gotube
    Jun 15, 2023 at 15:55

1 Answer 1


A statement

X is Y.

is transformed to a question

What is X?

A statement

X consists of Y.

Becomes, after the insertion of "do support"

X does consist of Y.

And as a question

What does X consist of?

In your examples, Y is the quoted phrase "acting dumb".

So the native speaker made a mistake when they said "What is X consist of". This kind of mistake is not unusual in unprepared speech.

  • 1
    So, OP is correct that “is” in the quoted sentence was a mistake, and should have been “does.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the native speaker was talking fast/not enunciating clearly, and OP possibly misheard “does” as “is.” Jun 15, 2023 at 1:04
  • It could also be that person said What's "acting dumb" consist of? and the OP thought what's would mean what is.
    – apaderno
    Jun 15, 2023 at 8:44
  • @apaderno He didn't use any contractions.
    – studentxxy
    Jun 15, 2023 at 10:39
  • @QuackE.Duck Nope. We were actually communicating through text messages.
    – studentxxy
    Jun 15, 2023 at 10:41
  • 1
    @studentxxy In that case, that person used What is wrongly.
    – apaderno
    Jun 15, 2023 at 11:49

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