Simple Past Tense with “Did”
When we want to talk about events that occurred in the past, we must use the simple past tense of the verbs.
- I went to my house after I finished class.
- She studied for the exam yesterday.
- They came back by taxi.
The structure is as follows:
Subject + Verb in Simple Past + Complementizer + Expression of Past Time
- She wrote me a letter last summer.
- They ate at a nice restaurant.
- Bill and Tom played basketball yesterday.
But when we want to make questions in the simple past tense we have to use the auxiliary “did”. When we put “did” at the beginning of the sentence the verb changes to the present form. If the answer to a question is negative, the verb use in the negative answer also changes to the simple present form.
In some ways the English past tense is easy because the auxiliary “did” is the same for all of the pronouns or subjects when asking a question. Also the past tense affirmative answers are the same for each person. And the negative answers are all in the simple present for each person.
When using “to be” in the past, it is impossible to use “did” in the questions.
|I was||They were|
|You were||We were|