At first glance it seems like "Did they stole the bike?" doesn't sound right.

I was going to correct that user and tell him it's steal.

However, when I look up the word stole, it's labeled as past tense.

It sounds funny to say "Did they stole the bike?", but what really is the difference between steal and stole?

Because when saying "Did they", that's inferring the past, right? So would stole actually work as it's past tense, but just sound funny?


The verb "to steal" is conjugated "steal/stole/stolen". For questions, you conjugate the auxiliary verb "to do" and then add the infinitive (present tense) of the main verb. Examples:

He stole the bicycle.
Did he steal the bicycle?

I ate cookies every day.
Did you eat cookies every day?

She had eight children.
Did she have eight children?

He flew the jet.
Did he fly the jet?

More on forming questions in English

  • Thank you. So just to clarify: Saying "Did he stole the bicycle", would technically make sense but just sound weird? I'm trying to understand the difference in terms of steal/stole in past tense usage Mar 29 '17 at 0:06
  • 1
    @NiCkNewman It's wrong. Remember auxiliary did + plain form of verb.
    – user178049
    Mar 29 '17 at 1:26
  • Thanks again, I'm still not comprehending it correctly I think. Steal isn't past tense, but stole is. Did he is past tense, and stole is too, so why doesn't stole make sense in this case? Mar 29 '17 at 2:26
  • Forming questions in English is always the same. You take the infinitive (present simple tense) form of the verb and add "do" in front, plus the subject. If it's past tense, you add "did". So "I stole the bicycle" becomes "Did I steal the bicycle?"
    – Andrew
    Mar 29 '17 at 4:42

"Did they steal it?"

In questions and negatives we often use a form of "do" and an infinitive ("steal"). Because of that, we conjugate "do" and the infinitive stays in its infinitive form. (Some people call an infinitive without "to" a bare infinitive.)

Someone stole it. I didn't steal it. Did you steal it?

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