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Past Tense of Do

After the verb “to be,” there might well be no other verb quite as important for learners of English to master than “to do”.

This versatile verb is used not only within its realm of definition, typically referring to the performance of actions, but also can be used to form other grammatical structures that emphasize different actions.

The past tense of “to do” is “did” and the past participle is “done.”

What is the past tense of “do”?

Do (verb):

(1) To perform an action, especially one that is not precisely specified

(2) To complete or achieve something

  • Infinitive                      to do
  • Simple Past                 did
  • Past Participle             done

Conjugation Table: past tense of “do”

 PronounInfinitiveSimple PastPresent PerfectPresent Continuous
Idodidhave doneam doing
You (sing.)dodidhave doneare doing
He/She/Itdoesdidhas doneis doing
Wedodidhave doneare doing
You (pl.)dodidhave doneare doing
Theydodidhave doneare doing

Example Sentences past tense of “do”

(1) To perform an action, especially one that is not precisely specified

  • He does his homework as soon as he gets back from school
  • We will do this for you, but you need to do us a favor in return
  • If you tell children firmly what you want them to do, they will likely comply

(2) To complete or achieve something

  • Have you done today’s crossword in the newspaper today?
  • I’ve done it! I’ve finally completed my master’s degree!

Focus: Past Tense of Do

Given how common and useful the verb “to do” is, it really is essential that every learner from their beginner stage works on mastering the various forms of this verb. This, of course, includes its past tense forms. To help in this preparation, we’ve prepared some example sentences below, which include many different past forms, including all of the following:

  • Simple past
  • Present perfect
  • Past continuous
  • Past perfect

Simple Past tense of “do”

  • He did his homework on time, but forgot to bring it to school with him
  • We did the math problems this morning, and now we are working on the physics ones
  • I did understand you, but I’ll need you to explain it just once more to be sure

Present Perfect tense of “do”

  • I have done everything you asked me to do and more
  • You have done your best, but now it might be time to try something else
  • She has done the impossible! She has somehow managed to solve cold fusion

Past Continuous tense of “do”

  • We were doing our chores on the farm when we heard a terrible noise coming from the barn
  • You were doing what? How could you have been so stupid!?
  • I was doing my best to keep the car on the road, but it was too icy

Past Perfect tense of “do”

  • I had done all the preparation for Thanksgiving dinner when I suddenly realized that we were out of cranberry sauce
  • They had done every necessary to qualify for the application, but for some reason were still rejected when the time came

Using ‘Did’ and ‘Done’

‘Did’ is the simple past tense of ‘do’ and is typically used to refer to a completed action in the past. ‘Done’ is the past participle of ‘do’, and it’s used with helping verbs in perfect tenses to indicate a completed action.

Additional examples of usage:

Simple Past

  • She did her chores before she went out to play.
  • We did a lot of fun activities during our vacation.

Present Perfect

  • They have done their homework for the day.
  • I have done everything I can to help.

Past Perfect

  • By the time we arrived, she had already done all the cooking.
  • If I had done my work earlier, I wouldn’t be so stressed now.

Do as an Auxiliary Verb

The verb ‘do’ also plays a critical role as an auxiliary verb in forming negative and interrogative sentences, and adding emphasis.


  • I do not like spinach. (negative)
  • Do you like spinach? (interrogative)
  • I do like spinach. (emphasis)

In the past tense, ‘did’ serves the same function:

  • He didn’t finish his work. (negative)
  • Did he finish his work? (interrogative)
  • He did finish his work. (emphasis)

Using ‘Do’ in Expressions and Idioms

‘Do’ is frequently used in idiomatic expressions, such as “do one’s best,” “do time,” “do the dishes,” and “do a favor.”

Here they are in the past tense:

  • She did her best in the exam.
  • He did time for a crime he didn’t commit.
  • I did the dishes after dinner last night.
  • I did him a favor by helping with his move.

Understanding the Verb “Do”

Derived from the Old English “dón,” “do” is one of the most versatile verbs in the English language.

While it often denotes action, accomplishment, or performance, it also frequently serves as an auxiliary verb.

Phrasal Verbs with “Do”

The verb “do” plays a foundational role in many phrasal verbs:

  • Do away with: To abolish or discard.
    • Some countries want to do away with physical currency.
    • He did away with all his old clothes.
  • Do up: To fasten or to renovate.
    • Do up your shoelaces before you trip.
    • They decided to do up their kitchen.
  • Do without: To manage in the absence of something.
    • We’ll have to do without sugar as I forgot to buy some.
    • Can you do without a car in this city?

Common Mistakes

Here are some common mistakes related to “do”:

  • Incorrect: She doesn’t knows the answer.
  • Correct: She doesn’t know the answer.
  • Incorrect: He do the task yesterday.
  • Correct: He did the task yesterday.

Additional Notes

In the continuous form, ‘do’ becomes ‘doing’. It’s not usually used to refer to specific actions in progress, but rather in a general sense:

  • I was doing some work when the power went out.
  • She is always doing something creative in her free time.


Learning to correctly use ‘do’ in the past tense will greatly enhance your ability to communicate in English.

Remember to differentiate between ‘did’ and ‘done’ correctly, understand the role of ‘do’ as an auxiliary verb, and familiarize yourself with common expressions and idioms using ‘do’. Regular practice will help ensure your mastery of this versatile and important verb.

Lets get it done!

We also have a full list of irregular verbs from A – Z on the site which you can access from the link here.

You can check other past tense words and our past tense resources by clicking on the links in the table below and in the resource list below that.

Table 2: Table of Links for irregular Past Tense Verbs

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We also have articles and worksheets which we will link examples of below, and if you need more you can try the search box.

I have been a teacher of English for over 15 years, in that time i made hundreds and thousands of resources and learnt so much i think its worth sharing. Hopefully to help teachers and parents around the world.

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