How do I explain to someone whose first language is not English the following concept: If I want to ask you about something, the phrase is "How does it work?" If I am about to explain how something works, I see, "This is how it works."

You can't interchange them, so asking "How it works?" is improper grammar, as is saying "This is how does it work" as an explanation.

Is there a shorter way to sum up this rule?


  • You just have to explain that this is how we form questions in English. Where some languages would say 'How works it?', we have to use the auxiliary verb 'do'. – Kate Bunting Dec 3 '20 at 9:44
  • The term you’re looking for is question inversion, but that also often requires a helper verb, which is a big topic in its own right. – StephenS Dec 3 '20 at 15:37

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