I DID do it!!! (Emphatic Past Tense)

(image by Lorax)

Funnel cake image by Lorax

Usually, when someone asks you a question in the past tense, you respond in the regular past tense:

“Hey, did you go to the fair yesterday?”
“Yes, I did! It was fun.”

Did you eat anything interesting?”
“Yes, I did! I ate some funnel cake.”

Did you do anything else exciting?”

“No, I didn’t. I didn’t ride anything, I didn’t watch the fireworks, and I didn’t see any chickens.”



The above conversation uses regular, simple past tense. You can read more about it at the posts here or here.

Sometimes, English language learners are confused about how to use the past tense.

When making NEGATIVE past tense sentences, it’s correct to use the past tense word “didn’t” plus the base tense verb. For example, I didn’t go, I didn’t eat, I didn’t dance are all OK.

I didn’t went, I didn’t ate, I didn’t danced are NOT correct.

In the regular POSITIVE past tense, “I did go, I did eat, I did dance” are usually not OK.

You say, “I went, I ate, I danced.”

eat ate didn’t eat
go went didn’t go
dance danced didn’t dance



But let’s re-imagine our conversation. This time, notice what changes in the speakers’ attitudes. Past tense is in red.

“Hey, did you go to the fair yesterday?”
“Yes, I did! It was fun.”
Did you really go? I thought you didn’t want to go.”
“I did want to go! I love the fair.”
“Yes! I had fun.”
“OK. I bet you didn’t eat anything interesting.”
“I did eat something interesting! I ate a funnel cake.”
“No, you didn’t!”
“I did, too!”

Do you see how the conversation changes? This time, the two people are almost fighting. The person who went to the fair is getting angry because he thinks the other guy doesn’t believe him.

You can use the emphatic tense when you want to emphasize something. When you talk, you put more stress on the words. Remember, it’s not for normal conversations. It’s only when you really need to be clear about something.

For more practice, you can click here, or, remember these emphatic remarks:

  • I did do my homework!

  • did like the present you gave me!

  • did call you yesterday!

Good luck!

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