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What’s the Past Tense of Do?

To do and does are both present tense. Did is past tense for all subjects, and done is the past participle (also for all subjects).

The verb 'to do' in text conversation.
The verb ‘to do‘ in text conversation. By Gflex on Canva.

What’s the past tense of “do”?

When is it correct to use do, does, did or done? Phrased differently, what’s the past tense of the verb do? Let’s go ahead and do our best to learn the proper usage of this particularly irregular verb form.

What does “do” mean?

To define the word, when you do something, this means you “perform, take part in, or achieve something: that was a really silly thing for me to do“.

When to use “do” or “does”?

‘Do’ is an irregular verb since its past tense conjugations do not end in the standard “-ed” that regular verbs take on. Additionally, do changes depending on whether the subject is in the first-person singular or third-person singular.

We use does for all third-person present singular subjects, such as the pronouns he, she, and it; e.g., She does the shopping on Wednesdays.

We use do, on the other hand, for all first-person singular subjects: I’m about to do the laundry.

simpleI do/doesI didI will do
continuousI am doingI was doingI will be doing
perfectI have doneI had doneI will have done
perfect continuousI have been doingI had been doingI will have been doing

Verb tenses of ‘do’.

base verbpast tensepast participle
do or doesdiddone

Did vs. does

Compare how the tenses of ‘do’ work in both sentences:

He does his schoolwork when he gets home from school.

He did his homework when he got home from school.

Did and does are simply two different tenses that we use to denote either the past or present time. The simple past tense of do is did for all subjects. The past participle form is done, also for all subjects.

Thus, the difference is did denotes the past, and do/does is in the present (in the first person/third-person singular).

Did vs. done

He did a lot of homework today.

He had done a lot of homework before he went out with his friends.

He did a lot of homework today” is the simple past tense, and simply mentions an action that took place at a time before now.

The second sentence with ‘he had done‘ includes the past participle ‘done‘ + the auxiliary verb had, to form the past perfect tense. The past perfect, also called pluperfect, is a form of the past depicts something that happened before something else which also occurred in the past.

‘Do’ as an auxiliary verb

To do is one of the three auxiliary verbs, along with to be and to have (not including modal auxiliaries). When ‘do’ is used in sentences with another verb, it’s probably taking on an auxiliary role:

We use do to make negatives (do + not), to make question forms, and to make the verb more emphatic. I didn’t see you at the concert the other night. Do they open at nine o’clock on weekdays? —Cambridge Dictionary.

“Do” / “does” / “did” / “done”, in sentence examples

Sentence examplesdo/does, present tense
Do you play cricket? – No, I don’t.

I didn’t do anything wrong.

Henry does all of his chores once he returns home from school.

He doesn’t want any chocolate.
Sentence examplesdid/done, past tenses
I did not want to hear about it.

I did the dishes every day.

Did Tim pay for his ticket last night?

She did everything she could to make sure it was done by the deadline.

I’ve never done yoga, and I’m not sure if they do, but I’m sure that he does.

Practice questions: the tenses of ‘do’

Complete the sentence with the correct verb form.Options:
1. What does he ___ for a living?

a. does
b. do
c. doing
d. done
2. I’m ___ the dishes right now.a. does
b. do
c. doing
d. done
3. He ___ the cooking on Wednesdays.

a. does
b. do
c. doing
d. done
4. I ___ the lawn mowing tomorrow.

a. does
b. do
c. am doing
d. done
5. I ___ nothing all day.

a. does
b. do
c. doing
d. did
6.___ all of my work for the day.

a. does
b. do
c. doing
d. I’ve done
Select the correct tense the sentence is written in:
7. This had been done before.

a. simple present
b. present perfect
c. simple past
d. past perfect continuous
8. Have you ever done anything weird?

a. simple present
b. present perfect
c. simple past
d. past perfect continuous
9. Did you order anything for dinner?

a. simple present
b. present perfect
c. simple past
d. past perfect continuous
10. Does Amy walk home from school?

a. simple present
b. present perfect
c. simple past
d. past perfect continuous


  1. b
  2. c
  3. a
  4. c
  5. d
  6. d
  7. d
  8. b
  9. c
  10. a

Origin of the verb do

From etymology online on do (v.):

To perform, execute, achieve, carry out, bring to pass by procedure of any kind,” etc., Middle English do, first person singular of Old English don “make, act, perform, cause; to put, to place,” from West Germanic *doanan.

FAQ: the verb “to do”

  1. What’s the present tense of ‘do’?

‘Do’ is the present tense in the first-person present singular; ‘does’ is the present tense form for third-person singular subjects.

  1. What is the past simple tense do? What’s the past participle of ‘do’?

The simple past tense of “do” is “did” for all subjects. The past participle form is ‘done’, also for all subjects.

  1. What is the past perfect tense of do?

The past perfect tense of “do” is “had done”.

Learn more about verbs

Types of verbs & verb tenseswhat’s the past tense of …?
forms of ‘to be’… seek?
auxiliary verbs… teach?
present tense… catch?
future tense… buy?
past tense… read?
perfect tense… draw?
transitive vs. intransitive… drive?
participles… throw?
irregular verbs… lead?
modals… win?


  1. Merriam-Webster, definition of do.
  2. Etymology online, origin of do.

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