Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Correct past tense and past tense negation in English...

This post is about simple past tense (sometimes referred to as the preterite tense), and negation.

Here are some examples of past tense in English using regular verbs.

  1. Walk:   I walked to the store in my **birthday suit.

  2. Skid/Stop:   The car skidded and stopped at every green light.

  3. Pee:   He peed in the cup.

  4. Pull:   He pulled his pants down at the dentist's office.

  5. Dance:  They danced at Mark's funeral.

  6. Half-ass:  He half-assed his way through four years of undergrad and a year of post-grad, before realizing he was not cut out to be a proctologist.

** "in [my/your/his/her] birthday suit" means naked.


In English, in order to do simple past negation, you need to know one irregular verb: do.

Since you are talking about the past, you use the past tense form of "do", which is "did".

You then add the word "not" to it, which creates "did not" or "didn't".

About contractions

I know that in places where English is not the native language there's a perception that contractions can't be used in formal written communications.  That is absolutely untrue.  In English, people use contractions in spoken language as well as written.  I worked many years in several corporations, and saw contractions used everyday for all kinds of communications, including mission critical.

Examples of negations in the past tense:

  1. Walk:   I did not (didn't) walk to the store naked yesterday.

  2. Stop/skid:   The car did not (didn't) stop at the front door of the hospital, but skidded through it.

  3. Pee:   She made him nervous and he didn't pee in the cup.

  4. Pull:   He didn't pull his pants down to pee in church.

  5. Dance:   They didn't dance at Ben's funeral, but they wanted to.

  6. Half-ass:   In *college, the only thing he didn't half-ass were the massive parties that he threw.

*In the United States, when someone says "college", it refers to University.

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