Should I use the present form of every verb after a did? Example: I didn't find anything misplace vs. I didn't find anything misplaced -> misplaced vs. misplace


Only one verb (usually the first) in each clause takes a finite form. In "I didn't find anything misplaced", "did" is the finite verb, and it's in the past tense. "find" is the bare infinitive, which as the name suggests, is not a finite form. "misplaced" is the past participle of "misplace", and participles are also not finite forms. With a lot of verbs, "misplace" included, the past participle and past tense look the same, but there are some verbs such as "break", the forms are different, and with those verbs it's clearer what's going on. It's not grammatical to say "I didn't find anything broke", because "broke" is the past tense (finite) form of "break", but it is grammatical to say "I didn't find anything broken", because "broken" is the past participle (nonfinite) form of "break". So when the past tense and past participle for a verb are different, make sure to not use the past tense if it's not the main verb in its clause.

  • We don't usually call the auxiliary verb the main verb. The main, or principal verb is the one that defines the main action (or state) of the sentence or clause. Where there's an auxiliary, it is the one that inflects for person and time, you're right about that, but that doesn't make it the main verb. – SamBC Mar 13 at 20:26

The verb that goes with did in your example isn't misplace(d). It is find, which is correctly in "the present" form (actually bare infinitive, which isn't the same, but let's not split hairs). Misplaced is acting as an adjective here, not a verb.

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    It's not "correctly in the present form" - it's only an unmarked infinitive. – FumbleFingers Mar 13 at 18:07
  • @FumbleFingers Sorry, I'll add the dubiousness quotes... done. Happy? – SamBC Mar 13 at 18:12
  • I'll go for that. I realise you probably think I am splitting hairs, but I think it's bad enough that many nns learners (although virtually no native speakers) refer to "Past Infinitive" in the context of English verb forms. We should stick to standard terminology. – FumbleFingers Mar 14 at 13:20
  • Oh, I've nothing against hairs being split for good reason. – SamBC Mar 14 at 14:07

I didn't find anything misplaced

In this sentence "misplaced" isn't a verb but an adjective. Take this sentence for example

I didn't find anything wrong.

And yes did shall be followed by a bare infinitive.

  • Nice! Thank you. What about when there are two verbs after a Did? Are the twos in the bare infinitive, or only the first? – Faminha Mar 13 at 18:37
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    Eefar, it's not the present form, it's the bare infinitive. @Faminha: what sort of sentence are you talking about? If they are two verbs that are actually what did is applying to, then they are both bare infinitives, like "I did run and jump" (don't use that, it's a contrived example). – SamBC Mar 13 at 19:09
  • I was not aware of that. Are all the verbs that follow "did" bare infinitives? – eefar Mar 13 at 19:17
  • @eefar Yes. Generally any verb that follows an auxiliary like "did", "do", "have", "was" and so on will be in a non-finite form. That can be a bare infinitive, a past participle or a progressive participle (or, depending on interpretation, a gerund, which looks just like a progressive participle). – SamBC Mar 13 at 20:22

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