When you want to find out about the functionality of a particular item, two of the most common questions you’ll hear are “does it work?” or “is it working?”. And although both of these are grammatically correct, when you should say which one depends on the situation. Today, we’ll look at some of the critical differences between “does it work” and “is it working”, and by the end of this article, you’ll never get it wrong again.
When to use “does it work” and “is it working?”
“Is it working?” is for when something is being used right now.
“Does it work?” is for when you want to know if something works in general, say,
Let’s say you tell me about a TV powered by potatoes. To find out if potatoes can power a TV, I might ask, “Does it work?”. When you show me, but I can’t see anything, I might ask, “Is it working?”.
When to use “Is it working?”
“Is it working?” is written in the present continuous. This refers to actions that are happening right at this very moment. For example, if I say, “I am walking to work”, I am describing my current actions.
If the answer to “Is it working” is yes, you still don’t know if it will still work in the future, so you should ask this question when you need to use something.
5 examples of “Is it working?”
“First, is it working? Does that change have to take place? These are important questions with no standard answers.”
“Minister, what is the Installed capacity and at what rate is it working?
“Does the bathroom have a ground fault interrupter and is it working?
“Is it working well because it is producing ruin with some rapidity in this particular Colony?
“So let us ask ourselves a question: is it working, because if isn’t working then we should just change track.”
Synonyms for “Is it working?”
To change up your language a bit, there are plenty of alternatives to “Is it working?”. If you want to know if something is currently working, you can use any of these options…
- Is it functioning
- is it operating
- Is it running?
- Is it acting?
- Is it performing?
- Is it moving?
- Is it up and running?
- Is it doing what it’s supposed to?
- Are you getting it to work?
There are plenty of other alternatives, but these were the first ones that came to my mind.
When to use “Does it work?”
“Does it work” is written in the present perfect. This refers to actions that happen regularly. For example, if I say “I walk to work”, I am not describing my current actions. I am, however, explaining how I regularly get to work. However, this is still the present tense because I’m talking about a fact about me that still applies at the moment.
“Does it work” should be used when asking if something works all the time? Or asking if something works in general.
So, if I tell you that I always boil my potatoes in stock, you can ask, “does it work?”.
7 examples of “Does it work?”
“does it work on the old iPhone?”
“Firstly, YouTube algorithm already flags copyright content. How does it work?”
“If they keep trying, the other guy (BSV) will win so… how does it work out in that context?”
“”How does it work then?” She stood up and stood in front of him. She looked at him closely and smiled”
“Does it work even if just one dose is taken?”
“How does it work for folk with no mobiles?”
“How the heck does it work only from your side and not hers?”
Synonyms for “Does it work?”
Interestingly, all of the “Does it work” synonyms is that we can create them by taking the “Is it working” synonyms and changing some of the tenses.
- Does it function?
- Does it operate?
- Does it run?
- Does it act?
- Does it perform?
- Does it move?
- Does it get up and run?
- Does it do what it’s supposed to?
- Have you got it to work?
“Does it work” and “is it working” kind of mean the same thing, but at the same time, kind of don’t. If you want to know about right now, you need to ask, “is it working?” If you want to know about general, ask, “does it work?”.
Martin is the founder of Grammarhow.com. With top grades in English and teaching experience at university level, he is on a mission to share all of his knowledge about the English language. Having written thousands of articles, he is an expert at explaining difficult topics in a simple language.
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