English Grammer


If a question is starting with do,and the answer is describing some activity done in the past,the answer should start with does or did?Also tell me the difference between both?

asked May 16 '12 at 06:17 Nidhi New member

3 answers


If a question is asked using "do" the answer should not start with "do" or any form of it.  That would be asking another question.


"Do" is present simple (first person singular and plural, second person singular and plural, and third person plural to be precise.)

"Does" is the present simple conjugation of "do" in the third person singular.

"Did" is the past simple conjugation of "do" used for all persons, singular and plural.


"Do you enjoy swimming?"  (Present tense.)

"I do not.  I used to enjoy it, but I had an encounter with a shark when I was a teenager.  Now I am afraid of the water."  (I mixed present and past tenses in that answer.  I needed to use the past tense to describe why I do not like to swim.)

I could also say, "I did at one point in my life, but an encounter with a shark left me with a fear of the water."

The answer doesn't have to contain any form of "do".  "No.  I used to love to swim, but I encountered a shark when I was a teenager.  Now I am afraid of the water."


It is OK to mix tenses.  We are having a conversation in the present, but we need to use past tense verbs to describe events that happened in the past.  I hope this makes sense!

link comment answered May 16 '12 at 13:35 Jody M. Expert

In terms of tense, the answer should go with the question.


I tried a lot but couldn't frame a question in presnet and its answer in past.

If the answer is describing some past activity, the question shall also have past instead of  present "do".


Let's wait for the experts for their views.

link comment answered May 16 '12 at 07:36 Rahul Gupta Expert

Adding to Jody's excellent answer.


Often, English as a Second Language (ESL) come to have the view that English is highly rule based in a mechanical sense. Yes, as with any language, English grammar has rules. But those rules are focused within the sentence. At the level of the paragraph, the rules of logic carry more weight than any mechanical rule of grammar.


Students often fear switching tenses (past, present, future, etc) within a paragraph. However, if we could not switch tenses, we could never speak of the past and the future in the same conversation.


Yes, you can answer a present tense question with a past tense answer.  You will notice, however, that the answer seems evasive (and it is) because it doesn't really answer the question.


"Mark, do you eat meat?" --> "I once ate a chicken." The answer is evasive because it speaks only of the past, while the question wants to know if Mark eats meat now.


For a direct answer, the verb tense will match. For an indirect, evasive answer, the verb tense will switch.

link answered May 16 '12 at 15:29 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Excellent points!

Jody M.May 16 '12 at 17:03

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