Which one is correct:

  1. What did he said?
  2. What did he say?
  3. What did he says?

I was asked this question and I said the answer is “what did he say”. But my teacher said that the answer is “what did he says”. But I'm not still sure she is correct. So what's the correct answer? Please explain why.


3 Answers 3


The correct question would be: what did he say?

Because "did" is the past tense of do, anything you say you "did" naturally occurs in the past, so there is no need to put "say" into the past tense too. For example, "he ran" means the same as "he did run".

Likewise, because "says" is the 3rd person present tense of "say", this is not appropriate for the tense used. Together, "did say" forms the simple past.

  • 1
    so there is no need to put "say" into the past tense too. — I assume you meant 'did' rather than 'say'.
    – Void
    Apr 23, 2020 at 14:02
  • 2
    @DecapitatedSoul No, I meant 'say'. In all three of the OP's examples they use 'did', but in one he suggests "said" instead of say. Said is the past tense of "say", and there is no need for it.
    – Astralbee
    Apr 23, 2020 at 17:04
  • The construction to do X where X is the infinitive form of the verb is called "emphatic" which is also used for interrogatives and negatives in English. Compare with progressive "to be going", perfect "to have gone", passive "is done." All of these have the following in common: only the first verb will change according to subject, the second always stays the same.
    – LawrenceC
    Nov 4, 2022 at 13:58

If you want to make the wh-question you should use this formula :

wh-question + auxiliary verb + subject + base form of main verb + ....?

According to the formula and the tense that you use (simple past), the auxiliary verb is did , and because we use did, for the main verb we should use the base form of the verb: so we have :

what did he say?


The answer is so simple, if you're using past tense it would be like that: What did he say. The short answer to your question is that the verb that follows did should be used in its base form.


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