Do - Does - Did - Done

English Grammar


The word DO appears a lot in English.

This is because it can be a verb TO DO (Do / Does / Did / Done) and can also be an AUXILIARY verb (Do / Does / Did).

The Verb - To Do

The verb TO DO has four forms.

TO DO - Present Tense - (Do / Does)

The present tense of TO DO is:

I / you / we / they - DO
he / she / it - DOES

TO DO - Past Tense - (Did)

The past tense of DO is DID for all subjects:

I / you / we / they / he / she / it - DID

TO DO - Past Participle - (Done)

The past participle of DO is DONE. Remember that past participles are accompanied by TO HAVE or TO BE (in the correct tense):

TO DO - To replace a verb

We sometimes use the verb DO to replace a verb when the meaning is clear or obvious. This replacement is more common in informal spoken English:



DO vs DOES in Questions

To make a question in the Simple Present Tense in English we normally put the auxiliary Do or Does at the beginning of the question before the subject.

Affirmative: You speak Arabic.
Question: Do you speak Arabic?

You will see that we add DO at the beginning of the affirmative sentence to change it into a question. We use Do when the subject is I, you, we or they.

Affirmative: He speaks Arabic.
Question: Does he speak Arabic?

When the subject is he, she or it, we add DOES at the beginning to make the affirmative sentence a question. Notice that the letter S at the end of the verb in the affirmative sentence (because it is in third person) disappears in the question.

NOTE: We DON'T use Do or Does in questions that have the verb To Be or Modal Verbs (can, must, might, should etc.)

Examples of DO and DOES in questions:

Notice there can be other words before Do and Does such as Question Words (Who, What etc.)

DID in Questions

To make a question in the Past Tense in English we normally put the auxiliary DID at the beginning of the question or before the main subject.

DID is used with regular AND irregular verbs in English.
(Exception is To Be and Modal Verbs such as Can)

Both Do and Does in present tense questions become Did in past tense questions. Compare the following:

Present: Do they live in Spain?
Past: Did they live in Spain?

The main verb (live in the example above) is in its base form (of the infinitive). The auxiliary DID shows that the question is in the past tense.

NOTICE: The only difference between a question in the present tense and a question in the past tense is the change in the auxiliary verb.

Examples of DID in questions:

The difference between DO, DOES, DID and DONE in English

DON'T - DOESN'T - Negative Sentences

To make a negative sentence in English we normally use Don't or Doesn't in the present sentence.

Don't and Doesn't are used in negative sentences with all verbs EXCEPT To Be and Modal verbs (Can, might, should etc.).

Affirmative: You speak Spanish.
Negative: You don't speak Spanish.

You will see that we add don't between the subject and the verb. We use Don't when the subject is I, you, we or they.

Affirmative: He speaks Spanish.
Negative: He doesn't speak Spanish.

When the subject is he, she or it, we add doesn't between the subject and the verb to make a negative sentence. Notice that the letter S at the end of the verb in the affirmative sentence (because it is in third person) disappears in the negative sentence.

Examples of sentences using don't and doesn't:

DIDN'T (DID NOT) - Negative Sentences

In the past tense Didn't is used to make a negative sentence for all subjects (I / you / we / they / he / she / it). This is for regular AND irregular verbs in English. (Exception is To Be and Modal Verbs such as Can)

Compare the following:

Present: They don't live in Japan.
Past: They didn't live in Japan.

The main verb (live in the example above) is in its base form (of the infinitive). The auxiliary DIDN'T shows that the sentence is negative AND in the past tense.

NOTICE: The only difference between a negative sentence in the present tense and a negative sentence in the past tense is the change in the auxiliary verb.

Examples of sentences using Didn't:

DO - For Emphasis

Sometimes Do / Does / Did are used in positive sentences to give special emphasis. Note that when speaking, the word (do/does/did) is stressed.

Notice that Did is used for positive sentences in the past tense and that the main verb is in its base form.

Do can also appear at the beginning of an imperative sentence to emphasize the importance of that imperative verb.



Next activity

Try our interactive game about the difference between Do, Does, Did and Done.

See our notes about Do vs Does and Don't vs Doesn't.

See the difference between Do and Make.


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