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!

The Past Tense in Song

Many verbs are regular. This means that in the past tense, we add -ed to them. Thus, “learn” becomes  “learned,” “dance” becomes “danced,” “laugh” becomes “laughed,” and so on.

But, there are MANY irregular verbs that don’t follow this rule. Each verb has a unique past tense which we must simply remember.

We often use past tense in songs. Take a look at these videos to help you practice the past tense:

Now listen to this song (“Yesterday When I Was You.” How many past tense verbs do you hear?

The Simple Past Tense

We often use the simple past tense to talk about an action that is finished. Some words that tell us that we need to use the simple past tense are “yesterday”, “last (week,/month/year),” “a (day/week/month/year) ago,” etc.

To form the simple past, we add “-ed” to the end of the base form of the verb if it is a regular verb. 

For example:

I work everyday.  Today, I worked from 9 AM to 5 PM.
Last month, we traveled to the mountains.
I talked to my friend last week.

Some verbs are irregular (meaning not regular), so we do not form the simple past by adding “-ed” to the verb.  The irregular form of the past simple is different from the base verb.

For example:

I eat lunch everyday at noon.  Yesterday, I ate lunch at 1:00 PM.
I usually go to bed at 10PM.  Last night, I went to bed at midnight.

Everyday, I buy coffee.  Yesterday, I bought tea.

Watch the following video to learn more about using the simple past tense:

For more practice with the simple past tense, visit these websites and complete the online exercises:



Rewrite the following story in the comment box. Use the past tense. The first sentence is completed for you.

John wants to withdraw money from his checking account. He uses the ATM at the grocery store. First, he puts his ATM card into the machine. Then he types in his PIN (personal identification number). The machine asks him how much money he wants. John types in $100.00. Five twenty-dollar bills come out of the machine. The machine asks John if he wants a receipt. John presses the button for “yes”. John checks the receipt to make sure it’s correct. Then he puts it in his wallet with his $100.00.

John wanted to withdraw money from his checking account.

Grammar: Verbs Past Tense










didn’t work




on a farm.

Complete the sentences.

Example: Sue (work) __________ in a factory.   Sue worked in a factory.

She (not live) ______ on a farm.  She didn’t live on a farm.

1. Maria (talk) _____ to a job advisor.

2. She (not know) __________ where to apply.

3. She (not want)___________ to work in a chicken factory.

4. Maria (complete) _________ the application.

5. She (not leave) ___________ any blank spots.

6. Maria (sign)________ her full name.

Past Tense Practice

This  week, Level 1  /2 is  practicing the past tense.

For regular verbs  we form the past tense by adding –ed or -d   (to verbs ending in e)  so we say that  ” we talked and walked and smiled”.

The past has many irregular verbs and we just have to learn them one by one  like  ate, drank, slept and woke.

Here are some videos that can help with this..



I Had Already Seen the Movie: the Past Perfect Tense

(photo by WT instructor JLN)

(photo by WT instructor JLN)

In 1997, I was a high school student. “Titanic” was the popular movie that year. The first time I saw it, I went with my boyfriend Bobby. The next weekend, my friend Maria wanted to see it. So even though I had already seen it, I went with her. My friend Erin wanted to watch it, too, so we watched it the next day. Of course, my mom wanted to go, too (and since my dad hates romantic movies, she invited me). I had seen it three times, but I went again with her. A week later, Bobby and I broke up and my friend Phillip asked me to go. In total, I saw “Titanic” in the movie theater five times. That’s 15 hours of my high school life that I spent watching Kate Winslett and Leonardo DiCaprio in a sinking ship. It was totally worth it, though!


When we talk about actions that had already been completed in the past BEFORE another past action, we use the Past Perfect. There is a long, detailed explanation of all the instances when you can use the past perfect here.


You form the past perfect by using “had” + the past participle. “Had” is the same for all subjects (I, you, he, she, it, we, they). You can find a list of past participles here. Here is another list and a video.

And of course, you can use abbreviations:

  • I had = I’d
  • You had = You’d
  • He had = He’d, etc.

Here are some examples:

Affirmative Statement Negative Statement  Question
Jaime invited me to dinner, but because I had already eaten, I wasn’t hungry. My legs had never hurt as much as they did the day I ran a marathon. Had you met him online before you met him in person?
It had rained the night before, and everything was soaking wet. She had not been to Paris until last year. Had they written their essay on time to turn it in?

This video has examples from songs and more explanations!

For practice, please try the exercises here and here.

The Past Perfect Tense


She offered him an apple, but he had already eaten one.
(photo by dkirkland)

Many CHOC students are learning how and when to use the past perfect tense.  Others may have learned it but need a review.  Below is some information that I found on a terrific website called esl.fis.edu .  I hope you find it helpful!!

The Past Perfect Tense is most often used for the following.  

1.  For actions that happened before a past event

2.  In reported speech
3.  In if (conditional) sentences

How to form the past perfect:      had + past participle  

1. For actions that happened before a past event

When we want to talk about an action that happened before a past event, we often use the past perfect.    Look at these examples:

  • When I got home yesterday, my father had already cooked dinner.
  • I didn’t want to go to the movies with my friends because I had seen the film already.
  • My friend offered me a sandwich in class yesterday, but I wasn’t hungry because I had just eaten lunch.
  • I arrived very late at the party. All my friends had already gone home.
  • As soon as she had done her homework, she went to bed.
  • I was very tired as I hadn’t slept well for several days.
  • Had you seen the film before?

2. In reported speech

The past perfect is common when we report people’s words or thoughts .., as in the following examples:

  • John said that he had never eaten sushi before now.
  • She told me that she had finished, but I knew she had not.
  • She wondered why he had been so unkind to her.
  • He told me he hadn’t done his homework, but he was hoping to finish it on the bus.
  • I thought I had sent her a birthday card, but I was wrong.
Notice how often words like alreadyjustnever etc. are used with the past perfect.

3. In if (conditional) sentences

The past perfect tense is used in unreal or hypothetical stituations, as in the following sentences:

  • If I had known you were in Raleigh, I would have called you. (but I didn’t know you were here so I didn’t call you!)
  • If I had had enough money, I would have bought you a better present. (but I didn’t have enough money.)
  • I would have been very angy if you had laughed when I got the answer wrong. (but you didn’t laugh, so I wasn’t angry.)
  • She wouldn’t have been able to finish, if you hadn’t helped her. (but you did help her and she did finish.)
  • I wish I had studied for my exams. (but I didn’t study – and I got bad grades!)
  • I would have been in big trouble if you hadn’t helped me. (but you did help me so I stayed out of trouble.)
If you would like to practice the Past Perfect Tense, here are some links to some practice exercises!

http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/single/pastperf1.htm     (positive statements)

http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/single/pastperf2.htm       (negative statements)

http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/single/pastperf3.htm        (past perfect questions)

http://esl.fis.edu/grammar/single/pastperf4.htm        (review )





Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense is used for past events with a connection to the present and unfinished time.

Past events with a connection to the present examples:

I have lost my keys.

Mary has fixed my computer.

I haven’t read the book.

Unfinished Time examples:

I have lived in Raleigh since 1965.

Have you lived here all of your life?

Constructing the Present Perfect Tense

Positive statements

  Singular Plural
1st Person I have eaten We have eaten
2nd Person You have eaten You have eaten
3rd Person He has eaten They have eaten

Negative Statements

  Singular Plural
1st Person I have not eaten We have not eaten
2nd Person You have not eaten You have not eaten
3rd Person He has not eaten They have not eaten


More Verb Tenses

Remember we have seventeen (17) verb tenses in English. This week we are looking at the next group called the perfect tense.

Why is it called perfect? The name comes from a Latin verb  which means ‘to finish.’ In English, the perfect tenses are connected to the idea that the end of the event is most important.


Tense Samples When do I use it? Level
Present Perfect Simple Affirmative: He has walked.
Negative: He has not walked.
Question: Has he walked?
  • When you need to put emphasis on the result
  • If the action is still going on
  • If the action stopped recently
  • If the finished action that has an influence on the present
Present Perfect Progressive Affirmative: He has been walking.
Negative: He has not been walking.
Question: Has he been walking
  • When you need to put emphasis on the course or duration (not the result)
  • If the action recently stopped or is still going on
  • If the finished action has influenced the present
Past Perfect Simple Affirmative: He had walked.
Negative: He had not walked.
Question: Had he walked?
  • When action taking place occurs before a certain time in the past
  • When you need to put emphasis only on the fact of the action (not the duration)
Past Perfect Progressive A: He had been walking.
N: He had not been walking.
Q: Had he been walking?
  • When the action taking place occurs  before a certain time in the past
  • When you need to put emphasis on the duration or course of an action

Verb Tenses in English

Did you know there are seventeen (17) verb tenses in English?  Don’t panic! You don’t need all of the tenses to speak English. If you keep studying, you will eventually learn all of the verb tenses. This week we will look at the first four tenses and how they are used. Next week we will look at the perfect verb tenses.

Tense Sample Sentences When do I use it? Level
Simple Present Affirmative: He walks.
Negative: He does not speak.
Question: Does he speak?
  • The action is n the present taking place once, never or several times.
  • Actions that are taking place one after another.
  • When we are talking about actions set by a schedule.
Present Progressive Affirmative: He is walking.
Negative: He is not walking.
Question: Is he walking?
  • The action is taking place now.
  • The action is taking place only for a limited period of time.
Simple Past Affirmative: He walked.
Negative: He did not walk.
Question: Did he walk?
  • The action takes place in the past once, never or several times
  • The actions take place one after another
  • The action taking place in the middle of another action
Past Progressive Affirmative: He was walking.
Negative: He was not walking.
Question: Was he walking?
  • The action was going on at a certain time in the past
  • The actions taking place at the same time
  • The action took place in the past and was interrupted by another action