Was and Did (Past Simple)

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Elizabeth Dañiel Marquis
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 10:40 am

Was and Did (Past Simple)

Post by Elizabeth Dañiel Marquis » Thu Oct 27, 2005 11:01 am

Hello All,
I wish to request various ways to explain and demonstrate in an engaging and fun way the difference between Did and Was in the past simple tense, negative and positive.

My class has just begun a unit on the past simple tense using the verb "to be" ~was and were. In a negative statement, my students had a habit of saying "I wasn't wash my car," meaning "I didn't wash my car."

I can teach them the correct way to form the sentences, but an explanation escapes me at the moment. Of course, I can then bring in past simple progressive (continuous), " I wasn't washing my car" and the difference between this and "I didn't wash my car". One is referring to a continuous period of time in the past, and the second sentence refers to one moment in the past. A timeline can demonstrate this.

But this still leaves the dilemma of "explaining" the past simple usage of "did and was".

I would appreciate any suggestions you may have.

Thank you, Peace and Joy,

Senorita Daniels
Posts: 202
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 6:11 pm

Post by Senorita Daniels » Thu Dec 01, 2005 1:55 pm

Was needs -ing at the end of the verb, and did doesn't need an ending. No one would say "I was wash my car." Another difference is that you need something to happen while washing if you use was. you should come up with a way to teach this in a class. I haven't had this problem yet, so I can't help you much in this area. Sorry.

Posts: 151
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:41 pm

Post by Macavity » Fri Aug 18, 2006 9:19 am

Hello Elizabeth,
perhaps the problem needs to be looked at from a different angle. Why is do/did necessary? Main verbs can&#8217;t be used as operators, that is they don&#8217;t allow themselves to form negatives or questions. In the simple tense do/ did don&#8217;t /didn&#8217;t performs this function. To be, which is one of the primary verbs *, doesn&#8217;t need this do-support as it can be used as an operator. Look at these examples:

I got there on time
I didn&#8217;t get there on time (negation of to get not possible, do-support needed)
Did you get there on time? (forming question using to get not possible, do-support needed)

I was there on time
I wasn&#8217;t there on time (negation of to be possible, no help necessary)
Were you there on time? (forming question using to be possible, no help necessary)

* A primary verb is one which can be both a main verb or an auxiliary verb. There are 3 primary verbs: have, be and do.

So although the verb to be is on its own in the examples, and so is performing the function of a main verb, because it is a primary verb it is possible for it to operate in this way.

Hope this helps a little with the explanation part of your dilemma. Hopefully you&#8217;ll get some good ideas of how to put this across! If I come up with anything myself, I&#8217;ll let you know!

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