02 Jul What verb form follows ‘didn’t’?
Didn’t is used in negative sentences when we talk about finished actions. What verb form should I use after didn’t?
Why do we use didn’t?
We use didn’t when we make negative sentences in the past simple. The past simple is a tense we use to talk about things that started and finished in the past. It can be used to describe a short, finished action –
a longer situation –
or repeated events in the past –
How do we use the past simple?
Using the past simple is pretty straightforward, at least where regular verbs are concerned. To get the past simple form of most regular verbs, all you have to do is add -ed to the end of the infinitive form.
Here are some examples using the verb work:
|I worked||I didn't work||Did I work?|
|You worked||You didn't work||Did you work?|
|He/she/it worked||He/she/it didn't work||Did he/she/it work?|
As you can see, you don’t have to worry about changing the verb according to the pronoun. In negative sentences and questions, however, we need to use the auxiliary verb did (do did) along with the infinitive (the basic form). We don’t need to use the -ed form of the verb at all – all we need to do is use did + infinitive and change the word order in questions, or use didn’t/did not + infinitive in negative sentences.
Here are some other things to keep in mind:
Verbs ending in -e: add -d
Verbs ending in a stressed vowel + one consonant: double the consonant, add -ed
Verbs ending in an unstressed vowel + one consonant: add -ed
Verbs ending in a consonant + y: use i instead of y, add -ed
Verbs ending in a vowel + y: add -ed
Verbs ending in -c: change c to ck, add -ed
Verbs ending in -l: double l, add -ed [only in British English]
Irregular verbs don’t follow the -ed rule, meaning you’ll have to learn them by heart. To avoid frustration and boredom, I recommend establishing a regular reading habit instead of just trying to memorize irregular verbs off a list – it’s always better to learn irregular verbs through context, rather than mechanically. It’ll take you longer to learn them all, but at least it won’t be so boring. While reading helps you learn how to spell and use irregular verbs in a sentence, you could also watch movies, TV shows, cartoons or documentaries.
Here are some examples:
|I ate||I didn't eat||Did I eat?|
|You went||You didn't go||Did you go?|
|He/she/it sang||He/she/it didn't sing||Did he/she/it sing?|
Once again, we need to use did (not) + infinitive in negative sentences and questions. The rules are the same – the only difference is how the verbs change in affirmative () sentences since they’re irregular.
Some easily confused verbs:
They fell in love (not felt!)
They didn’t fall in love
Did they fall in love?
I felt sick
I didn’t feel sick
Did I feel sick?
She laid the book on the table
She didn’t lay the book on the table
Did she lay the book on the table?
He lay on the sand
He didn’t lie on the sand
Did he lie on the sand?
They lied about their age
They didn’t lie about their age
Did they lie about their age?
That’s it! Don’t worry if you keep making mistakes – go over the grammar, expose yourself to the language by reading and listening, and you’ll get it right eventually. Although it’s boring (I certainly find studying German grammar boring…), studying verb lists won’t hurt, either. It takes time and practice, so be patient and keep at it!