When to use "is" vs. "does" when asking a question?

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When do I use is or does when I ask a question? For example,

  • Is your item still for sale?
  • Does your item still for sale?

I am not sure which one to use.

michael

Posted 2013-10-01T03:19:36.467

Reputation:

12Turn your question back into a statement and see which one fits. The item is for sale OR The item does for sale. Since it is The item is for sale then the question is: Is the item for sale? – Jim – 2013-10-01T04:26:43.130

Answers

12

When the verb in a statement is neither a primary auxiliary verb (be, have, do) nor a modal auxiliary verb (will, would, can, could, may, might, shall, should, must, ought to, used to), do is used to form a question from it. Thus, ‘You know where my house is’ becomes ‘Do you know where my house is?’

Meanwhile, when the verb in a statement is a primary auxiliary verb or a modal auxiliary verb, then a question is formed from it by placing the verb before the subject. That means that ‘Your item is still for sale’ becomes ‘Is your item still for sale?’

Barrie England

Posted 2013-10-01T03:19:36.467

Reputation: 7 553

*Used you to go? – Edwin Ashworth – 2013-10-01T07:32:56.517

I normally insert normally somewhere, and should have done so here. As it is, the BNC has no records for used you to? used in this way. I don’t say no one ever says it, but my intuition is that did you use to? is what most people would say. – Barrie England – 2013-10-01T07:53:27.570

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Barrie Englands answer is great. However, I have a feeling those seeking an answer will be at a level where they will also confused by the neither/nor structure.

For Primary auxiliaries (be/have/do), and Modal auxiliaries (will, would, can, could, may, might, shall, should, must, ought to, used to):
Simply reverse the statement to form the question.

For all others use ‘do’ to form questions:
Place the verb before the subject.

Bob

Posted 2013-10-01T03:19:36.467

Reputation: 31

@Bob, «For be/have/do — simply reverse the statement to form the question», it sounds like «You have a book → Have you a book?», but in fact it should be «Do you have a book?». – Mike B. – 2019-10-23T18:23:06.127

Hello Bob & welcome to the site! I have made some minor changes to your post, mainly, because referring to "the other answer" might become misleading once more answers are given. Unlikely in this case, but not impossible... – Stephie – 2015-01-08T07:56:22.073