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    • Join Date: Apr 2006
    • Posts: 80

    What the devil-What on earth

    Hello! How is it going?

    My questions:

    1.- Do "What the devil" and "What on earth" mean the same thing?

    2.- I´ve always listened to them along with the present continuous form.
    But, can I use them along with the past continuous form?


    a) What the devil/on earth ARE YOU DOING in my bedroom?

    b) What the devil/on earth WERE YOU DOING in my bedroom?

    Thanks a lot!


  1. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552

    Re: What the devil-What on earth

    1. Yes, they are used in the same situations as extremely mild expletives, so in that sense they "mean" the same thing. In the past, some people objected to invoking the devil, and so "what the dickens" was used as a euphemism, but today "what the devil" is completely harmless.

    2. Yes, you can use them with many other tenses:

    What on earth have you done?
    What the devil will you do if you miss your plane?
    Who the dickens does he think he is?

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