Example (this is past-tense narrative):

I thought about the motivation of the killer. Did he hate his wife?

I thought about the motivation of the killer. Had he hated his wife?

I did some research and found out that using "had" to start a question is archaic or more likely to be found in British English.

I'm not a native English speaker, so I'm a little confused about this.

  • 1
    ". . . archaic and more likely to be found in British English"! I hope you're not conflating those two things. – Robusto Sep 29 '15 at 14:55
  • @Robusto You're right. I should have used "or". I edited the question. – janoChen Sep 29 '15 at 14:57
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    In truth, it depends on what you want to do. If you are asking questions like this to compile a kind of write-by-numbers work of fiction, it doesn't seem likely you're going to have a lot of success. – Robusto Sep 29 '15 at 14:57
  • FWIW, and this is an opinion, there is a nuance between "had" and "did". "Had" can imply that "at that point in time" he felt one way where at a different point he might have felt another way about his wife. Again, it's a nuance that (IMO) a native speaker would pick up on. – Kristina Lopez Sep 29 '15 at 15:36

As far as I know, Had is for something that was done and finished by that time.

If he was still hating the wife at the time under consideration (maybe when he committed the murder) it's did.

If he had finished hating her by that time somehow, it goes to had.

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