I don't understand the usage of auxiliary verbs in questions that begin with How ("How ...?"), and always use structures such as:

How to learn play piano?
How long it take to deliver product?

Do these questions require do/does or may/can?
Where do we place them in our sentences, if they're necessary?

2 Answers 2


Questions starting with "how", specifically, the ones you use as examples, require an auxiliary verb. It should be placed immediately after "how", followed by the subject, then the verb. Which auxiliary verb you need depends on two factors, namely:

  • tense
  • subject

Assuming you want to ask your first example in present tense, you should say

How long does it take to learn to play the piano?

Maybe you can write your second example in the correct way as a comment to this answer.

  • I think that common sense question fine to be written in simple present tense, so I will use do/does. For another example I can't identify subject and don't understand word grouping: how to or to learn are related.
    – gavenkoa
    Aug 15, 2015 at 11:14
  • I don't understand what you're trying to say. Sorry.
    – JMB
    Aug 15, 2015 at 11:53

After another round of search, I found similar questions:

As JMB says in his answer, "how" questions require an "auxiliary verb" in front of the "subject" (the structure which I previously misunderstood):

How do I ask ...?
How should I rewrite ...?
How can I negotiate ...?

To avoid using the pronoun I in these questions, it is possible to rephrase the questions like this:

What is the way to ...?

or like this (asking you instead I):

How would you make ...?
How do you make ...?

  • Good advice! I'd like to add another option: How would you make ...?; which is generally considered more polite than How do you ...? Oct 7, 2015 at 18:21
  • 1
    Thanks for the links. 'How to' vs 'How do I' is specially relevant for your "How to learn play piano?" May 3, 2019 at 23:11

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