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ESL forum > Ask for help > Questions in the past tense    

Questions in the past tense

United Kingdom

Questions in the past tense
Hi guys, I ve got my knickers in a twist about explaining when we need did in past simple questions, for example, When did she go to town?   Who asked her? I really don t get it and I m English. is there any rule? 

17 Mar 2015      

United Kingdom

"Who asked her?" is a "subject question," meaning that "who" is the subject of the question and "her" is the object. Compare to "Who did she ask?" In that case "she" is the subject and "who" is the object.... I hope. 

17 Mar 2015     


Right. In the questions to the subject the word order remains the same as in a statement, the subject is substituted with the question word who/what.
e.g. What made you do this? Who went to the party yesterday? etc. 

17 Mar 2015     

United States

Since we can t say," When went she?"
We use did
the formula is
Negative and question sentences
 subject         + auxiliary do                         + main verb
                           conjugated in Past Simple                         
   did  base
 She  (no auxilary)  went.
 She   did not  go.
 Did   she  go?
 She went becomes She did not go in negative sentences and Did she go in questions.
For question sentences, we exchange the subject and the auxiliary verb.

17 Mar 2015     


I agree with spinney and ueslteacher.
The rule is: no "DO-construction" for "Subject Questions".
E.g. Who phoned you? What happened then? 
The only exception are negations in "subject questions". Then you need "Do-construction" for main verbs, but not for auxiliaries:
e.g.  Who didn t phone you? What didn t happen then?

18 Mar 2015     


Hi Lynne,
When the "question word" is the subject there is no auxilary so the verb has to be in the tense form.   Look at these:
  • Who loves you?  (question word is the subject)      answer:    Brian loves me.
  • Who do you love?  ("you" is the subject)   answer:    I love John (poor Brian!!)
Here are some more examples:
  • What happened at the party?   as apposed to     What did they do at the party?

  • How many people are going on the trip?   -------  How will they know the details?
Hope this helps.

18 Mar 2015     


Who loves Angelina? Brad!
Who does Angelina love? We don t know...
Greetings from Greece,

18 Mar 2015     

United Kingdom

Thank you guys. I understand this now.

18 Mar 2015