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Questions, Answers about Holiday Activities

Questions, Answers about Holiday Activities
Questions, Answers about Holiday Activities
Questions, Answers about Holiday Activities
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Imagine you are talking to an American. You are curious to know about what they did during the holidays of Christmas and New Year’s. How can you ask about these or other holidays? How can you build a discussion about the holiday season?

In this Everyday Grammar, we will explore how you can form common questions and answers about the holidays.

Let’s start with some important terms and ideas.


The Christmas and New Year’s holidays are important in the United States. Common good wishes during the season include “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year!”

But how do you build a discussion around the subject of such holidays?

You can start with yes or no questions, which involve the helping verb “do.” The structure is generally:

Do+ subject + celebrate + the holiday.

For example, you might ask

Do you celebrate Christmas?


Do you celebrate New Year’s Eve?

The person you ask these questions to might answer with a yes or a no.

Both answers can lead to interesting discussions. But for the sake of today’s report, let’s assume the answer is “yes.”

Open-ended questions

You can follow up with more detailed questions about what the person did for Christmas and New Year’s.

You might need to ask open-ended questions – questions that are not asking for a yes or no answer.

The word “what” is often commonly used to ask open-ended questions about basic actions. We combine “what” with the helping verb “do” to form the following structure:

What + do + subject + do + rest of the sentence

Notice that the verb “do” appears twice in the structure. Here is how one might use this structure to ask about holiday activities:

What did you do for Christmas?


What did you do on New Year’s Eve?

Note that the first example of “do” is in its past tense form – “what did...” This is because we are asking about an event in the past.


You could hear answers that go in a few different directions. One of the most common answers will involve the simple past forms of the verbs go, see, or visit.

For example, a person might say “I went to my grandparent’s house,” or “We saw our cousins,” or “We visited my brother.”

Note that the person could be speaking for themselves and use the subject pronoun “I,” or they could be speaking for their family and use the subject pronoun “we.”


Now let’s work with these ideas.

Ask a yes or no question about the holiday Hanukkah. It is a Jewish holiday around the end of the year.

Pause the audio to consider your answer.

Here is one possible answer:

Do you celebrate Hanukkah?

For this next question, imagine that you celebrated New Year’s Eve in New York City’s Times Square. How would you use the verb “see” if someone asked you about what you did?

Pause the audio to consider your answer.

Here are a few possible answers:

I saw crowds and decorations.


I saw the ball drop.

There are, of course, other answers. What is important is that you use the past form “saw,” as in “I saw...”

The next time you hear Americans discuss the holiday season, pay careful attention to the kinds of questions and answers that they give. Such questions and answers are not only useful for talking about holidays but for many other activities as well!

I’m John Russell.

John Russell wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

curious –adj. wanting to learn more about a subject or issue

for the sake of –phrase for the purpose of

assume – v. to think that something is true or probably true without knowing that it is true

Hanukkah – n. an eight-day Jewish holiday that is celebrated in November or December

decoration – n. something that is added to something else to make it more attractive