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    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 1
    #1

    Why are these verb-tenses incorrect?

    That didn't made sense
    You still haven't told me, how long did it took you?
    I know these are pretty elementary examples, but someone recently asked me why they were incorrect, and I couldn't explain it to them for the life of me. I know they are incorrect, and I know the reason has to do with the verb tense and auxiliary verbs.
    Could someone explain why the above two sentences/statements are wrong? Thanks in advance.


    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 2,886
    #2

    Re: Why are these verb-tenses incorrect?

    That made sense is the corresponding declarative sentence to the first sentence. In its assertive predicate there is no operator, no finite auxiliary. To form the negative, a dummy do support is required, which, similarly to modal auxiliaries, is to be followed by a bare infinitive form. '(M)ade' is not a bare infinitive form, but a past tense form. '(M)ake' is correct. Thus, the first sentence is ungrammatical.

    You still haven't told me(,) how long (did) it took you(?).

    Never place a comma between the verb and its direct object. The verb in the subordinate nominal relative clause does not require a do support because it sits in an indirect question.
    Last edited by svartnik; 29-Jul-2009 at 20:39.


    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 2,036
    #3

    Cool Re: Why are these verb-tenses incorrect?

    Quote Originally Posted by GoldmanSachs View Post
    I know these are pretty elementary examples, but someone recently asked me why they were incorrect, and I couldn't explain it to them for the life of me. I know they are incorrect, and I know the reason has to do with the verb tense and auxiliary verbs.
    Could someone explain why the above two sentences/statements are wrong? Thanks in advance.


    That didn't made sense. - This is wrong because we don't change the form of a verb after "did" and other auxiliaries. For example, we don't don't say, "they couldn't went", we say "they couldn't go". The same rule operates here: "could" is an auxiliary, and the form of a verb remains the same after an auxiliary. The auxiliary adds meaning of some sort to the verb. With the auxiliary "did", we understand this is the past, and the form of the verb "make" doesn't change to the past.

    You still haven't told me, how long did it take you. - Of course, this should be "you still haven't told me how long it took you."

    "how long it took you" is a noun clause, which, in this case, is the object of the verb "told". Noun clauses do not require the auxiliaries "do, does, and did". And, here, without "did" we use the past form of the verb "take", which is "took". However, if we do add "do, does, or did" to a noun clause, it would be for emphasis. And because it's a noun clause in, not a question, the auxiliary would have to come after the subject.

    You still haven't told me how long it did take you.

    How long did it take you? - question form

    You still haven't told me. How long did it take you. - two separate sentences.

    You still haven't told me how long it took you. - one sentence, combining two clauses.


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