What's the difference between these two setences?

We did have a meeting, but it was a bit rushed.

We had a meeting, but it was a bit rushed.

  • Both are fine, and would often mean exactly the same thing. Including the "helper" verb did is usually done when either that word or the word have can be heavily stressed in order to emphatically refute something contextually stated or implied. Your but it was a bit rushed clause does provide such a context (rather weakly, admittedly) so it's quite acceptable to include the auxiliary verb. But you don't have to - it's essentially a stylistic choice of little or no significance. Jul 27 '18 at 16:18
  • See duplicate. "We did have a meeting" is used when the person you are talking to expects the opposite.
    – James K
    Jul 27 '18 at 16:18
  • @James: But note that OP's exact example would be a perfectly natural response to someone saying/asking I assume the meeting went ahead as planned, even though it was due to start just half an hour before the World Cup final? That's to say emphatic did have can be licensed simply by the but clause here (audience might have expected an "ordinary" meeting rather than a "rushed" one). Jul 27 '18 at 16:26

Emphasis. The first is emphasized.

This is done if:

  • there is some doubt it happened, or happens regularly, and the speaker/writer wants to remove that doubt.

  • the speaker believes the listener is not listening, understanding something, understanding something is needed.

  • the speaker wants to emphasize something is in past tense, especially with verbs that don't change according to tense like put, set, cut, etc.: E.g. I did put it away.


In the first sentence, 'did' would likely be stressed and the sentence would be about that point (ie that a meeting did take place).

The second sentence is more neutral. If anything, the second part would be stressed, or neither.

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