Forum: General Forum
Start a New Topic 
tense usage

I posted a message on facebook and I was told I used the wrong tense of the word pass. the message is this "Tonight, after 3 months of preparation, I took the exam. Not only did I passed it, I aced it."
So should I have used pass or was the word passed correct.
thank you

Re: tense usage

Yes, you should have used "pass".

Tonight, after 3 months of preparation, I took the exam. Not only did I passed pass it, I aced it.

As used here, the word "did" is a dummy auxiliary verb. Auxiliaries are followed by the plain (infinitive) form of the verb, which in your example is "pass", not "passed", which is the past tense form.


Re: tense usage

A sentence usually has the form, Subject + Verb + predicate:
"I have passed all my exams."

There are constructions, called Inverted Sentences, in which the the verb comes before the subject - at least the auxiliary verb part of the verb form. One type of invested sentence is when we ask a question:
"Have you passed all your exams?"

Notice how it is the auxiliary verb that precedes the subject, not the whole verb form.
Similar to your sentence:
Not only have I passed all my exams, I have won a scholarship to university.

A problem arises when we invert sentences in the Present Tense, and Simple Past Tense, because they do not have an auxiliary verb. Hence, we use 'do /did' as a 'dummy' auxiliary:
"I pass all my exams ."
"Do you pass your exams?"
In the Past Tense:
"I passed my exams."
EXCEPT...when we invert the sentence, we use the form, did + subject + bare infinitive***.
"Did you pass your exams?"
"Not only did I pass my exams, I aced it."

*** the bare infinitive is the infinitive (e.g. 'to pass') with the 'to' omitted - 'pass'.

Hope that helps.

Re: tense usage

Tonight, after 3 months of preparation, I took the exam. Not only did I passed pass it, I aced it.

The previous reply mentioned 'inversion' in questions, but entirely omitted to mention exactly why it occurs in your example even though it is not a question. The answer is that it has nothing at all to do with the inversion that occurs in certain kinds of questions, but is entirely due to the presence of the word "only". I'll explain:

Subject-auxiliary inversion occurs in declarative clauses only when certain types of element are put in front position. Negatives are one very obvious type of element that trigger subject-auxiliary inversion when fronted:

Never had I seen such chaos.
At no stage were they in danger.

"Only" is not negative, but it is semantically close to a negative, in that "Only John liked it", for example, entails "No one other than John liked it". The inversion is also found with some items that are not similar to negatives:

"John enjoyed it and so did Robert".

So that is why your sentence, even though it is not a question, exhibits subject-auxiliary inversion.


Re: tense usage

Perhaps, Mr.Matthews, if you remembered that others view replies to questions, you might have given a fuller understanding of the 'why' it's 'pass' not 'passed', in your first response. There are others who view responses to questions, including non-native speakers with varying levels of English. Your bald statement as to the correct tense lacked consideration for them.
It seems my efforts, at least, do goad you to expand, even though your motive is more a rather ugly competitive spirit.

Re: tense usage


What are you talking about?

My first response gave the required answer to the core question, i.e. that the plain verb-form "pass" is required as a result of the presence of the dummy auxiliary verb "did". The reason for its presence in the OP's particular example is a little complex (it has nothing to do with questions) and one that I could have explained but chose not to for fear of confusing the OP.

Nevertheless, had you managed to explain why subject-auxiliary inversion occurs in declarative clauses, I would have passed quietly over your answer without comment. But your answer was defective in that it focused entirely on inversion in interrogatives (questions), which is irrelevant here since the OP's sentence is a declarative one, not an interrogative one.

You made no mention of certain elements triggering inversion when fronted; more specifically, you gave no explanation at all as to why the word "only" can trigger inversion when it is fronted, yet its presence in the OP's example is precisely the reason that it exhibits inversion!

If you intend to explain subject-auxiliary inversion, at least do so adequately, with a fully supportive explanation of why it occurs in declarative clauses like the one cited by the OP.

However, we can only assume that your omission of crucial points in your answer is due to the fact that you are clueless about this aspect of English grammar.