Oh désolée de rempiler, then
I have found a useful French language resource. The Youtube videos are produced by a Brit living in southern France.
Help! I’m possibly missing an obvious clue but I’m just trying to understand how this works-
Comment Paul a-t-il rencontré …
How does the addition of ‘il’ change the sentence from 'How Paul met…
to 'How did Paul meet…
Looks like ‘how Paul he met’…
It’s a mode of the language. Try saying “A-Paul rencontre” and it is awkward on the tongue, so the convention is to name the subject (Paul) and refer back to him with “a-t-il”. English with its extensive use of “do” and “did” sidesteps the problem.
“Comment Harry a rencontré Sally” = “How Harry met Sally” is a statement.
In order to make it a question you turn the verb and subject around, A-t-il rencontré Sally? Has he met/ did he meet Sally? (The t is only there to make it easier to say).
If we want to know how we just put ‘comment’ first, Comment a-t-il rencontré Sally?
We put Harry’s name in to be sure who is being discussed “Comment Harry a-t-il rencontré Sally?”
So literally “How Harry has he met Sally?” as you said!
‘George’s book’ used to be 'George his book" which is a bit similar.
If it is just “has Harry met Sally?” you do it differently and put “est-ce que Harry a rencontré Sally?” The est-ce que is a signal that a question is coming, that’s all.
English just uses different auxiliaries, differently. French functions more as modal verbs do.
Many thanks for the help Vero and Brian.