When is it correct to use the form "I did want to ..." versus "I wanted to..." (substitute other verb for "want"). I often find myself changing from the former to the latter when I edit early drafts, but sometimes the former seems to better emphasize my "wanting".

EDIT: Part of my curiosity was that this has the feel of a slightly different tense, but it is not. The discussions in the following, which I found rather indirectly via the ELL meta site, are more what I was looking for. Difference between "did + verb" and just "verb+ed"

  • 2
    I would suggest that it's just for emphasis. However note that in the negative, "did" is always used. "I didn't want to". To add emphasis, I would remove the contraction: "I did not want to go" Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 15:22
  • Instead of 'want' you can use the word 'desire'. 'I did desire to' or I desired to.
    – Sweet72
    Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 15:27

1 Answer 1


I wanted to do this is the ordinary past tense. I did want to do this adds emphasis to the verb.

  • 3
    Or adds emphasis to the past tenseness...I did want to do this, before I found out blah blah blah...
    – JeffSahol
    Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 19:15

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