"Did I charter a train and take it to the sea?" vs. so this is simple past tense. What do we call the verb that changes the tense, while the others retain their present base form?

But now in the answer form (the previous is inquisitive and not declarative, what do we call this/mood/aspect...? sigh):

"Yes, I did charter a train and took it to the sea."

Now 'did charter' appears to be past perfect (but its not!) as 'took' sounds appropriate as a past tense form in this sentence following on what appears to need to be past perfect...? vs. the previous sentence in the inquisitive mood.

But I am not sure - I am a native speaker and am 40 years old. But I cannot explain the difference and why it exists...

"Did Peter charter a train and take it to the sea?" (did charter & take) "Yes, peter did charter a train and took it to the sea." (did charter & took)

Also, this "did charter" could hav been repaced by "yes, Peter chartered".

However sometimes we answer,

Did you do it? Yes I did...

So... Any help on explaining the diff. of tense use here from the title question? I cannot, not at all, but it's a curious little quirk I hope someone can help as to also WHY - not only WHAT - the diff is.

Maybe the difference lies in what types of verbs the two sentences' "did's" are, but I am not sure what they are...

  • Explaining to learners ... better posed in ell.stackexchange.com
    – GEdgar
    Jan 4 at 13:14
  • did charter = chartered; did take = took. 2) What do we call the verb that changes the tense? It is the auxiliary verb. In examples like wrote (did write), write (do write), writes (does write) will write (will), the change occurs due to the use of do, does, did, will etc. 3) Same is for say, is writing/ was writing/ will be writing where 'writing is constant'.
    – Ram Pillai
    Jan 4 at 14:56

The trick is to pick the right bracketing.

Consider the following pair:

  • I (did charter a train) and (took it with me).
  • I did (charter a train and take it with me).

In the first case, the did phrase terminates before took, so we can expand the sentence to "I did charter ... and I took ...".

In the second case, did applies to both verbs, so the expansion is "I did charter .. and I did take".

If you remove the brackets from the bulleted pair, you end up with the odd situation where a simplistic scanning seems to suggest that "took" and "take" both convey the same sense. The parsing explains the oddity.


You are mixing up a few concepts here.

“Did I charter?” has auxiliary “to do” with subject-verb inversion. This is not the past perfect because perfects are formed with auxiliary “to have”.

When you use auxiliary verbs, the first one is inflected for tense and person, while the lexical verb (here, “to charter” and maybe “to take”) must be in the base, -ed or -ing form.

Subject-verb inversion is used for most (but not all) questions. However, inverting most verbs is now seen as archaic (“Chartered I?”), so we add the auxiliary “to do” and invert that instead. When you’re not inverting, “to do” isn’t needed, so doing it anyway adds emphasis, called “emphatic do”, as in “I did charter”.

Now to the parallelism aspect. Both versions “I did charter and (I did) take” and “I did charter and (I) took” are grammatical, but by putting back in the elided words, we can see the “to take” half is emphatic in the first case and not in the second. Which is correct depends on what you mean to say.


"Yes, I did charter a train and took it to the sea."

I agree with Lawrence. I would add that to use the above sentence correctly, one should repeat "I"

"Yes, I did charter a train and I took it to the sea."

The reason is that mentally we try to make "I" cover both verbs but then discover that they are incompatible. By repeating "I", we make it clear that the first "I" does not apply to the second verb.

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