11

Is it grammatically correct to use "did" like this?

On June 18th, I did experience my first earthquake in Japan.

I'm an ALT in Japan and on our exam for our students they had to write the statement above but without “did" but the teachers are wondering if it’s ok because they think it puts emphasis on experience. But, I dont think it is right and I cannot explain why. Any help would be appreciated.

  • 1
    Sounds like a sentence out of a Jane Austin novel. – Adonalsium Jun 28 '18 at 20:11
  • I don't know enough about the usage (or about linguistics in general) to describe it well, but using did in this way has a certain folksy quality to it that I'd associate with the American South. It might be related to the stereotypically Southern phrase I do declare. – Justin Lardinois Jun 29 '18 at 11:19
23

The emphasis would be used if you are contradicting someone, or giving information that is the opposite of what is believed.

{two people are describing their trip to Japan}

We were in Japan for all of June, but we didn't feel any earthquakes

I did experience an earthquake on June 18th.

The first person states that neither person felt an earthquake. The second person contradicts the first, and uses the emphatic form.

In your situation you are just stating a fact. There is no need for emphasis.

On June 18th, I experienced my first earthquake in Japan. I did enjoy it!

The second sentence here uses the emphatic form, as it contradicts the expectation that earthquakes are scary and bad. (I was excited about my first earthquake, but I came to hate them after a few years.)

  • 8
    Although your logic seems sound, the "I did enjoy it" in the last example doesn't sound right to my ear. Even with a direct contradiction, "You wouldn't expect it, but I enjoyed it" sounds more fluent than "You wouldn't expect it, but I did enjoy it". I think there needs to be a direct "didn't", and often in that case the "enjoy" would be in the first clause, not with the "did": "I didn't expect to enjoy it, but I did". – IMSoP Jun 28 '18 at 16:27
  • 1
    I tend to agree, there is no need for an emphatic form there, but it is possible. The point I hope to make is "I did enjoy it" doesn't mean "I enjoyed it very much" but contains this aspect of contradicting what the listener is expecting, either from the immediate context, or from the general context. – James K Jun 28 '18 at 22:12
  • 2
    The second example could perhaps work better if somebody had just said that nobody enjoys earthquakes. – JiK Jun 29 '18 at 8:45
  • @IMSoP Disagree. "I did enjoy it!" doesn't sound natural. It would be "I enjoyed it!" every time. – Max Barraclough Jun 29 '18 at 11:41
  • @MaxBarraclough Did you mean to address that comment to me? Because you seem to be agreeing with me: "I did enjoy it" sounds wrong in this context. – IMSoP Jun 29 '18 at 11:55
9

There may be a circumstances for composing a sentence that way, but not for the reason of emphasis like you ask.

If you want to add extra emphasis to the sentence:

On June 18th, I experienced my first earthquake.

You could say instead:

On June 18th, I experienced my very first earthquake

or:

On June 18th, I experienced my first ever earthquake

This would add emphasis to the fact it was your first experience.

An example of when you might write or say "*on June 18th, I did experience my first earthquake*" is if it was in response to a contrary statement might be:

I didn't think I would ever witness a natural disaster; but on June 18th, I did experience my first earthquake.

In this or a similar scenario you can see that "did" could be used to counter the previous statement that said it was unlikely.

  • 1
    So you're saying On June 18th, I did experience my first earthquake would be said with the same tone as if there were no did present? It's definitely emphatic, and I don't know why you're trying to say otherwise. See the answer by James K. – userr2684291 Jun 28 '18 at 9:56
  • @userr2684291 If it were spoken as per my example I would expect some emphasis on the word "did", because the only reason you would include the word is to emphasise you are contradicting a previous statement that either said you didn't, or that it was unlikely. But the answer to the OP's question is to not include this. – Astralbee Jun 28 '18 at 10:28
  • That last example doesn't sound right to me, but I can't quite put my finger on why. Maybe it's because "witness" and "experience" are synonyms, so feel redundant? Or maybe it's "the wrong kind of contradiction" in some way? "I don't think I could own a pet, but I did feed the neighbour's cat for a week" sounds OK. – IMSoP Jun 28 '18 at 16:40
  • Adding very doesn't add anything to first. And adding ever makes it sound clunky, but if used it should be "... my first earthquake ever." – mbomb007 Jun 28 '18 at 16:47
  • 1
    @mbomb007 A native English speaker would definitely not say "on June 18th, I did experience my first earthquake". It sounds like something a preschool child might say. – Astralbee Jun 28 '18 at 18:45
5

Using "did" as an auxiliary like this is (in my experience) very rare. It cannot simply be used in the same places as "didn't", because the "did" there is really just a helper for the "not".

As others have pointed out, the main use of "did" is to contradict a previous statement. This is usually a direct use of "didn't" + verb, or a similar construction like "wouldn't" + verb.

Even then, often the verb is omitted, as in:

I didn't expect to enjoy it, but I did.

The same would be true if two people were talking about their trip:

Alice: I didn't experience any earthquakes during my trip.

Bob: Oh, I did.

or:

Alice: I didn't enjoy the earthquake.

Bob: I did.

The verb would only be included if there was more than one verb that "did" might otherwise apply to:

Alice: I experienced two earthquakes during my trip, and didn't enjoy them.

Bob: Oh, I only experienced one, and I did enjoy it.

A single sentence example, still employing a contradiction and two different verbs:

I didn't enjoy it, but I did find it fascinating.

0

First did is a conjugate of do (past tense), so usages of did and do are similar.

Now let's look at som do sentences: I do that. Bob did it. Alice didn't.

Not in that in all three cases a pronoun is used as the object (implied in the case of Alice). This is because the most common use of do is to show action from a noun phrase. In your example you can use experience as your main verb without the do for a simpler sentence or ihe verbal (which is a verb used as a noun) experienced as the object of do which although grammatically correct often awkward.

Now using otherwise awkward constructs for emphasis is a valid technique, You first need to ask what do you want to emphasize? As do is often omitted, by choosing to include a do emphasizes the do not the verbal object. If you wish to emphasize the action adverbs are more appropriate. If you wish to emphasise the verb tense do constructs are useful. Consider these variations: On June 18th, I most certainly did experience my first earthquake in Japan. On June 18th, I most certainly experienced my first earthquake in Japan. Note that the adverb phrase in the first example modifies the did emphasising the factualness of the experience, whereas in the second experience is modified leaving the impression that it was a extreme experience.

  • I think the "Alice didn't" example is a distraction here, because "didn't" is normally used with a verb, because modern English doesn't like to use "not" without some auxiliary; so the implied sentence here is "Alice didn't do it", not *"Alice didn't it". The "certainly did" example is interesting, though. – IMSoP Jun 29 '18 at 8:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.