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Was/were vs Did

 
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Jaz



Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:12 pm    Post subject: Was/were vs Did Reply with quote

Hello there! Razz I have a problem. I'm teaching the simple past tense, and I don't really know how to explain one of my students when to use was/were or did. please HELPPPPPP
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3008
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Was/were is used in constructions that contain adjectives or other types of complements (BE is known as 'the copula'), or participles (-ing form, and past participle); in those constructions with participles, although the was/were is technically still a "tensed" (or finite) verb, the (was/were+) -ing participle construction amounts to what is known as PROGRESSIVE or CONTINUOUS ASPECT, whilst the (was/were+) past participle will add VOICE (that is, form a PASSIVE construction). It is VITAL that you understand the (functional!) difference between truly 'Simple Past' constructions (which, beyond simple, positive statments will require the auxiliary DO to e.g. form questions, short answers, negatives or increase emphasis in the positive statement), and constructions that involve progressive aspect and/or (combinations are possible!) passive voice.

Bedtime reading/Homework:
http://www.eslcafe.com/forums/teacher/viewtopic.php?p=14794#14794
http://www.soton.ac.uk/~enm/vbans.htm
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Alexanndra



Joined: 20 Sep 2003
Posts: 39
Location: Mexico City, Mexico

PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Use was/ were (without did!) if you're talking about the verb "to be", and use "did" for all other verbs in the past when you are using them in the negative or question form.

Examples with the verb "to be" in the past:

She was sick last Monday.
She wasn't sick that Monday
Was she sick last Monday?

They were tired.
They weren't tired.
Were they tired?

(No need for "did" when you're using the verb "to be", OK?)

Examples with other verbs:

She played tennis yesterday.
She didn't play tennis yesterday.
Did she play tennis yesterday?

They ate pie after dinner.
They didn't eat pie after dinner.
Did they eat pie after dinner?

See the pattern, Jaz? See how you only use "did" for the negatives and questions in the past? The same is true with the simple present... we need the auxiliary "do/does" to make negatives and questions.

Hope this helps!
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Alexanndra



Joined: 20 Sep 2003
Posts: 39
Location: Mexico City, Mexico

PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Use was/ were (without did!) if you're talking about the verb "to be", and use "did" for all other verbs in the past when you are using them in the negative or question form.

Examples with the verb "to be" in the past:

She was sick last Monday.
She wasn't sick that Monday
Was she sick last Monday?

They were tired.
They weren't tired.
Were they tired?

(No need for "did" when you're using the verb "to be", OK?)

Examples with other verbs:

She played tennis yesterday.
She didn't play tennis yesterday.
Did she play tennis yesterday?

They ate pie after dinner.
They didn't eat pie after dinner.
Did they eat pie after dinner?

See the pattern, Jaz? See how you only use "did" for the negatives and questions in the past? The same is true with the simple present... we need the auxiliary "do/does" to make negatives and questions.

Hope this helps!
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Alexanndra



Joined: 20 Sep 2003
Posts: 39
Location: Mexico City, Mexico

PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Use was/ were (without did!) if you're talking about the verb "to be", and use "did" for all other verbs in the past when you are using them in the negative or question form.

Examples with the verb "to be" in the past:

She was sick last Monday.
She wasn't sick that Monday
Was she sick last Monday?

They were tired.
They weren't tired.
Were they tired?

(No need for "did" when you're using the verb "to be", OK?)

Examples with other verbs:

She played tennis yesterday.
She didn't play tennis yesterday.
Did she play tennis yesterday?

They ate pie after dinner.
They didn't eat pie after dinner.
Did they eat pie after dinner?

See the pattern, Jaz? See how you only use "did" for the negatives and questions in the past? The same is true with the simple present... we need the auxiliary "do/does" to make negatives and questions.

Hope this helps!
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Alexanndra



Joined: 20 Sep 2003
Posts: 39
Location: Mexico City, Mexico

PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, sorry, I don't know why that went three times! How can I delete the extra two???
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3008
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2006 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you have problems getting your post to submit (e.g. slow to load)? If you hit the submit button repeatedly, it can result in the post being posted multiple times.

You can usually only completely delete a post if it is a very recent one (i.e. very few people have looked at it, and there are no replies to it). The most you can probably therefore do now is to edit the first two or last two down to e.g. 'Multiple post'.

Kind of related, I always copy what I've typed before I hit submit, because sometimes all connection gets lost, and the post with it, never to be seen again!
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Rebekah



Joined: 17 May 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Was/Were questions are for sentences that use the "to be" verb as the main verb.
She is happy - Is she happy? - Was she happy?

Otherwise, you will use "did" or "do" (for the present tense) for the question.

She drinks beer - Does she drink beer? - Did she drink beer?

It's that simple.
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stromfi



Joined: 26 May 2005
Posts: 58

PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Rebeca's explanation is a bit oversimplified. It would be a good way to explain the usage of "was/were" and "did" in questions in a beginner class, that hasn't talked about the continuos tenses yet. However, if you have a class that has tackled these tenses already, then Rebeca's explanation won't stand.

"She was doing her homework." - Was she doing her homework?
They were listening to the news. - Were they listening to the news?

In each sentence, the verb "be" is not the main verb, however we still use it to start off each question. Fluffyhamster's given a very thorough answer, but depending on how much you want to tell your students at the moment, you can opt for Rebeca's as well.
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lolwhites



Joined: 16 Jul 2003
Posts: 1321
Location: France

PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about making parallels with the present? If it's do in the present, it's did in the past.

Is/Was it a good film?
Do/Did you like Star Wars?
You aren't/weren't very nice to your sister.


If the students can do it for the Present, they should have no problem with the Past; the principle is exactly the same.
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Rebekah



Joined: 17 May 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Oregon

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

These are all good points, however the original post asked about the simple past. But, the present continuous got me thinking about how to further explain the topic.
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