English Grammar: Should you use DO or BE?


Hi, everyone. I'm Alex. Thanks for clicking, and welcome to this beginner lesson on questions

with "do" and "be". This is a very common problem, a very common question that students,

who are learning English for the first time, ask. "When do I use 'be' and when do I use

'do'? Especially when I'm asking questions."

So, first, what I'm going to do is actually just to go through these with you, and see

what your natural instinct tells you, and afterwards, I'm going to explain the rules

which are behind me, and we'll explain why,

you know, these answers are the answers that we gave.

For example, number one: "Where _______ you from?"

Do we say: "Where are you from?" or "Where do you from?"

- "Where are you from".

That's one of the most common questions, so you probably knew that one.

"What _______ you do?" "What are you do?", "What do you do?"

- "What do you do". Not: "What are you do".

"_______ you want to go?" "Do you want to go?", "Are you want to go?"

Okay? "Do you".

"How old _______ he?" "How old does he?", "How old is he?"

- "How old is he". Okay?

"_______ she a student?" "Does she a student?", "Is she a student?"

- "Is she a student". Okay?

"_______ you happy?" "Do you happy?" or "Are you happy?"

- "Are you happy".

"Where _______ you going?" "Where do you going?" or "Where are you going?"

- "Where are you going".

And finally: "_______ he here?" "Is he here?" or "Does he here?"

- "Is he here". "Is he here?"

Okay, so do you notice anything common about some of these questions when we use "do" and

when we use "be"? The ones with "be" are a little more complicated, so let's look at

the two examples we have with "do", and you can tell me what is the same; what is common

to these two questions.

"What do you do?", "Do you want to go?" Number one: one is an open question; one is a yes

or no question. But they still have something in common. Specifically, they both use a verb:

"do" and "want". So, here, you see: "What do you do?" Base verb. "Do" is a base verb.

"Do you want to go?", "want" is a base verb. So, this is the basic, basic rule when you're

using questions with "do" or "did" if you're speaking in the past. If you want to ask a

question that uses an action, a base action, always use "do" or "did", if you're speaking

in the past. "Where did you go?", "What do you do?", "Who did you see?",

"What do you want?" These types of questions

where you have an action, a base verb, always use "do" or "did".

Now, "be" can be used in many more situations than "do". It's much more versatile in that

way. So, let's look at the rules. Like I said, for "do", you can ask the question word, "do"

or "did" plus the subject, plus the base verb. And we can say "do" is only for actions. Only

use it with actions, only with base verbs.

Now, "be", you have your question, you have the verb "to be", which can be "am", "is",

"are", "was", "were", "will be" even. You have your subject: "I", "you", "he", "she",

"it", "we", "they", and then you have a number of different parts of speech and functions

that you can use. So, you can ask a question about age with the verb "to be": How old are

you? "I am", whatever your age is. You can use actions with the questions with the verb

"be", but they can only be continuous actions. So: "Where are you going?" Right? "What are

you doing?" So you can add verb+ing, present continuous.

You can ask questions with adjectives: "Are you happy?" You can ask questions with nouns

or jobs, for example: "Is he a student?", "Are you a teacher?" I am... You don't say

"I do", but you would say: "I am an engineer", for example.

And finally, you can use "be" with prepositions and adverbs. And when I say adverbs and prepositions,

sometimes they relate to locations, adverbs specifically. So: "Is he here?" And again,

"here" is an adverb, and it refers to a space, a location. So you don't say: "Do you here?"

or "Does he here?" but: "Is he here?", "Are you here?" And same with prepositions. So,

in the first question: "Where are you from?", "from" is, again, a preposition, so you would

use the verb "to be" in this situation.

So let's look at these. We have "from", which is a preposition. "How old is he?" Here, we're

asking about age. "Is she a student?", "student" is a noun. "Are you happy?", "happy" is an

adjective. "Where are you going?" This is verb+ing, "going".

And: "Is he here?", "here" is an adverb.

So, I hope this makes it a little more simple for you. Just remember: If it's an action,

a basic action, only use the verb "do" or "did" for actions. If it's almost anything

else, you're going to be using the verb "be". Okay? If you'd like to test your understanding

of how to make questions with the verb "do", "did", or the verb "be", you can always

do the quiz on www.engvid.com. And don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Thanks, guys, and see you next time.

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