Asking a question about the past using the present tense
I would like to understand why the following is done in English:
why do we often phrase a question regarding a past event
using the present tense while we answer the question with the past tense?
"Did you go to France this year?"
Note the words 'you go' are in the present tense.
A possible answer might be:
"I went to France in May."
Note the words "I went" are in the past tense.
Can someone explain why we can use the present tense to ask the question while we use the past tense to answer the same question?
Swartz Creek Michigan
It only seems like we are using the present tense, but it is really something else.
The auxillary verb "do" -- do, does, did, will do, have/had done -- is always followed by the base form of the main verb. Since the base form is also the present tense, it seems as if we are using the present tense. In truth, the tense of the entire verb formulation (auxillary verb + main form verb) follows the tense of the auxillary verb. This rule holds true for both questions and statements.
Did they travel to Greece last year? Did = past tense plural auxillary verb. Travel = base form main verb.
I hope this helps.
|link||answered Aug 29 '12 at 04:29 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow|
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