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  1. #1
    Seagull is offline Junior Member
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    Smile Questions without an auxiliary verb

    Sometimes I have some difficulties in making it clear for my students why sometimes the questions don't have an auxiliary verb. For example, in the sentence: "How many workers work in that factory?", you don't need an auxiliary verb(do) because the question is about the subject of the sentence. But if you ask:" How many workers do you know in that factory?" you need the auxiliary verb because the question word is not referring to the subject of the sentence. Is that right? Could you, please, give me a more technical answer, so I can explain it more clearly to my students?
    Thanks for answering
    Regards

    Manuela Rocha

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    Default Re: Questions without an auxiliary verb

    Wow, I have the same question!

  3. #3
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Questions without an auxiliary verb

    Quote Originally Posted by Manuela Rocha View Post
    Sometimes I have some difficulties in making it clear for my students why sometimes the questions don't have an auxiliary verb. For example, in the sentence: "How many workers work in that factory?", you don't need an auxiliary verb(do) because the question is about the subject of the sentence. But if you ask:" How many workers do you know in that factory?" you need the auxiliary verb because the question word is not referring to the subject of the sentence. Is that right? Could you, please, give me a more technical answer, so I can explain it more clearly to my students?
    Thanks for answering
    Regards

    Manuela Rocha
    Technical isn't always better, Manuela. Your explanation is excellent. The important point now is to devise examples for them to practice. it's best if the examples are contextually richj so you might want to have them ask questions, even silly questions that they may already know the answer to, like,

    How many brothers do you have? vs How many brothers live at home?

    How many workers do you know in that factory? vs How many workers in that factory know you?

    This is a part of language that has to be internalized and internalization comes from practicing in context, and allowing that there will be errors but just keep practicing.

  4. #4
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Questions without an auxiliary verb

    Maybe that's why they call it drill. With practice you "drill" it into your head.


  5. #5
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Questions without an auxiliary verb

    Likely, Ron, but I think there's a difference. Drills are all too often empty exercise in a contextual sense.

    I feel that the result is that the brain doesn't put the grammar in the correct contextual space. ESLs often memorize irregular verbs in a rote, "break broke broken" manner and they become highly proficient in that but they still often fail to deploy the verbs accurately in a natural language situation.

  6. #6
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Questions without an auxiliary verb

    Quote Originally Posted by Manuela Rocha View Post
    Sometimes I have some difficulties in making it clear for my students why sometimes the questions don't have an auxiliary verb. For example, in the sentence: "How many workers work in that factory?", you don't need an auxiliary verb(do) because the question is about the subject of the sentence. But if you ask:" How many workers do you know in that factory?" you need the auxiliary verb because the question word is not referring to the subject of the sentence. Is that right? Could you, please, give me a more technical answer, so I can explain it more clearly to my students?
    Thanks for answering
    Regards
    Manuela Rocha
    It depends upon the function of the question word in the sentence. If for example who/what/how question the subject/agent (not the object) you don't need "do" (old Germanic way):

    Who came here? questions the subject
    Who did you speak with. Questions the object
    This confusion is also partly due to the fact that "who" has taken over the function "whom", the question word for the object, filled when it fell out of use except in very formal writing.

    What happened? subject
    What did you do? object

    How many people died? subject
    How many people did you interview? object

    In sentences with "have" used in the active (present perfect)/passive:
    I have repaired the car. Have you repaired the car? present perfect no do is used.
    I have the car repaired. Do you have the car repaired? passive usage with do
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 19-Nov-2006 at 18:44.

  7. #7
    peplondon is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Questions without an auxiliary verb

    Hi, i have more or less the same problem as Manuela when i have to teach how questions without auxiliary work. It seems to be quite difficult to understand for the students.
    I have another question regarding this topic:
    How can i explain to the students the question "What happened to you?" or "what happened today?" to be clearly understood?
    If we take another examples is much more easier for them to understand. Ex.
    " Which actor won the oscar?"
    " Robert de Niro won the Oscar"

    However i donīt know how to explain the answer in the questions mentioned above, " what happened today?", etc.
    Could anyone give me and answer? Many thanks in advanced and excuse my poor english.

  8. #8
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Questions without an auxiliary verb

    Re:
    What happened?
    To teach that one, I suppose you could use examples. Here's one possibility:
    A: What happened today?
    B: The alarm went off. I got ready to go to work. I went to work. I came home. I watched a little TV. I had dinner. I went to bed.
    (Note: I am not a professional teacher.)



  9. #9
    peplondon is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Questions without an auxiliary verb

    Many thanks for your help, RonBee!!
    I have another question though. what about verb to be questions? Are there subject and object questions with verb to be, or are all of them subject questions? I`m not sure about it. Could anyone give me an answer?
    Thank you in advance!

  10. #10
    Airone is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Questions without an auxiliary verb

    It took me an agonizing weekend to internalilze the formal rules for question formation in English, and I'm a native speaker. It may not be the most creative way, but I make sure my students have the following rules (from Swan) in their notebooks:


    -Aux before subject
    -If there is no other auxiliary, use "do". "Do" is not used with other auxiliaries.
    -After "do", verb goes in base form
    -If "What", "which", or "who" or "whose" is the subject of the sentence, don't use "do"

    Naturally I try to guide the students to the rules themselves by giving them real questions extracted from interview transcripts, then breaking them down by writing each word on a card and having them put the cards in order.

    But if time is short, I won't hesitate to dictate the rules as rules. For many students, this is enough, and when they make mistakes in the future, I ask them to look at their rules and reformulate the question, and if this doesn't work to write out their question and see if it follows the rules.

    Now, I see the OP is in a Romance language country. I'm in Italy, and I found a question in Italian, cosa causa un trauma cranico? which has two different answers, because there is no differentiation in Italian between subject and object questions. The question therefore translates either as "what causes a concussion?" or "what does a concussion cause?". It's a trick question from a driving test. I give them this question in Italian, let them think of an answer, and hopefully two different students come up with two different answers. I find this example helps to introduce the idea of subj/obj questions and at the end of the lesson I have them translate the two possible meanings of the Italian question.

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