How to use did in questions and sentences: 8 Steps

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How to use did in questions and sentences: 8 Steps
How to use did in questions and sentences: 8 Steps

The word did is the past tense of the verb do, which means to do. This is very important since with it the simple past is formed both to deny a verb and to formulate questions, it will also serve to create emphasis in an affirmative sentence in the past simple. Its use is simple and you only require some basic rules to be able to learn it. Due to its importance, this is one of the most used words in the English language.


Part 1 of 2: Structure a sentence in the past simple using did

Study Efficiently Step 16
Study Efficiently Step 16

Step 1. Use did as a verb

This is the basic form, because did means I did, it will be very useful for you to talk about everyday issues. Place this verb after the subject, which can be a personal pronoun or a noun and then a direct object, it is commonly structured like this:

  • Subject + verb did + direct object.

    • I did my bed today (I made my bed today or I made my bed today).
    • He did math yesterday (he did math yesterday or he studied math yesterday).
    • We did coffee.
    • Ramiro did it (Ramiro did it).
Study English Literature Step 25
Study English Literature Step 25

Step 2. Negate an action using didn’t as a helper

Did not or the abbreviated form didn’t, must accompany any verb that you wish to negate and whose action points to the past simple. Its basic structure is as follows:

  • Pronoun or noun + Didn’t + verb in the present simple + direct object.
  • I didn’t work in the office today.
  • You did not swim at the beach.
  • Arturo didn’t wake up (Arturo did not get up).
  • The use of didn’t is more common than did not, anyway you know they mean the same thing.
Study Step 13
Study Step 13

Step 3. Emphasize some situation

If you want people to be sure that you did something and clear all doubts, then accompany any verb you want to emphasize with the auxiliary did. You will seldom come across this form because even when you speak you will have to use a more authoritative tone. The sentence should have the following elements:

  • Subject + did + verb in infinitive + direct object.
  • I did make it.
  • You did run in the park.
  • Carlos did work properly.
  • You can notice how in both cases the verb after did goes in the infinitive.
  • Remember that whenever you speak in the past simple the structure is subject + verb in the past + direct object, in this case the sentence has little force.

    I made it and I did make it are an example of an affirmative sentence in the past simple, the difference is that the second one places a lot of emphasis on the tone

Part 2 of 2: Ask using did

Study Step 25
Study Step 25

Step 1. Ask simple questions

These are useful when you are only looking for an answer of yes and no. Remember that when you ask questions in English you only use the last question mark. Start the question with the auxiliary verb did or didn’t, followed by the subject to whom you are addressing and the verb written in the infinitive, the following structure shows you the basic composition:

  • Did or didn’t + subject + infinitive verb + direct object + question mark.

    • Did you work today? (Worked today?).
    • Didn't she sleep well? (Didn't she sleep well?)
    • Did Vanessa start her Project? (Did Vanessa start her project?).
  • To answer a question, just use yes in the case of affirming and not for negation, followed by did or didn’t.

    Did you run today? Answer: No, I didn't (Did you run today? Answer: No, I didn't)

Study Step 18
Study Step 18

Step 2. Mix did and do in a question

Use did as an auxiliary and do as the main verb, both mean the same thing, but they have different functions, it will be useful to combine them when you want an answer about everyday and general events of the past. Be guided by the following examples:

  • Auxiliary verb + subject + do + direct object + question mark.

    • Did you do your homework today? (Did you do your homework today?).
    • Didn't they do that? (Didn't they do that?)
    • Didn’t Rita do her chores? (Didn't Rita do her chores?)
Make Jeopardy Questions Step 4
Make Jeopardy Questions Step 4

Step 3. Ask informative questions

In the English language they are known as the wh questions or wh questions, it combines did with who, what, where and when, which correspond to the who, what, where and when of Spanish. These types of questions are used when you are looking for a longer explanation, in some cases did will be the main verb and in others it will work as an auxiliary, the following structures show you its use depending on the situation:

  • Who + did + direct object + question mark.

    Who did this sculpture? (Who made this sculpture?), An example of did as the main verb

  • Wh question + auxiliary verb did + subject + infinitive verb + direct object.

    • Where did you make this cake? (Where did you make this cake?), Make also means to make and is in the infinitive.
    • When did you travel to India? (When did you travel to India?).
Study Step 4
Study Step 4

Step 4. Use the confirmation questions or tag questions

There are situations where you ask a question and you answer yourself with a yes or no, waiting for the confirmation of your question. This is known as tag questions. You can formulate the question affirming or denying and the answer to it affirmatively or vice versa. Apply the following structure.

  • Auxiliary verb did + noun + infinitive verb + direct object + affirmative or negative answer + question mark.

    • Use the positive form: You ate those cookies, didn't you? (You ate those cookies, didn't you?).
    • Use the negative form: You didn't drink beer today, did you? (You didn't drink beer today, did you?).
Have Fun While Studying Step 23
Have Fun While Studying Step 23

Step 5. Frequent use of the verb have

When you want to use the past simple to question someone's belonging or obligation in a situation, combine did with have. Did can be in its affirmative or negative form. Follow any of the following structures depending on what you want to express:

  • Did + subject + have + infinitive verb + direct object + question mark.

    • Did you have to swim in the river? (Did you have to swim in the river?).
    • Didn't you have to vote this year? (Didn't you have to vote this year?).
  • Did + subject + have + direct object + question mark. In this case, you question the belonging of an object.

    • Did Marco have the box? (Did Marco have the box?).
    • Didn't they have money for the trip? (Didn't they have money for the trip?)


  • Learn the verb conjugations. With this you will be able to distinguish between the infinitive of a verb and its form in the past simple.
  • To consult the basic rules in the use of did you can go to the Oxford dictionary, there you will also find the conjugations of the verbs.
  • Practice will make you master this word, the advantage is that its use is very frequent.
  • If you make an effort in a couple of weeks you will be able to distinguish the most important of the English language, so practice it.


  • Although have (have) is used for the first and second person singular, when using it in combination with did or didn't to refer to third person singular, you should not use the inflection has as this would be grammatically incorrect.
  • He didn't have it wrong, I didn't have it the right way.

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