Very simple:

  • I can say "Was he told you?"/"Was he married?"
  • I cannot say "Did he told you?"/"Did he married?"

Why the first example is right, but the second is not? They both use doubled past-tense.

  • 1
    I'd be somewhat perplexed if you said "Was he told you?" to me.
    – KillingTime
    Feb 6, 2021 at 16:53
  • I don't think this should have been migrated. It's based on a false premise. Feb 6, 2021 at 19:20

2 Answers 2


This is not "double past tense".

There is a verb "marry" and it has a past tense "married". It also has a particple, which (for regular verbs like marry) is the same as the past tense. The participle is "married".

But participles can be used like adjectives, and some adjectives are exactly the same as spelling as the past participle.

So there is past tense "He married yesterday."

And an adjective "John is a married man". Or "John is married". These are present tense sentences.

In the past tense you could have "John was married", and as a question "Was John married?" There is no double past tense. Married is an adjective and doesn't have any tense.

Participles are used in perfect tense and in passive voice sentences. So there are present tense sentences

He has told you. / He is told by you.

and past tense

He had told you / He was told by you

Or as questions

Had he told you? / Was he told by you?

There are no double past tenses.

If you take a verb like "eat-ate-eaten", then you can see clearly

Was he eaten by you? (correct)

Was he ate by you? (incorrect)


Neither example is correct.

Both "Was he told you?" and "Did he told you?" are grammatically incorrect. I am assuming you meant "Has he told you?" and "Did he tell you?".

For the "Was he married?" and "Did he married?" pair I am assuming you mean "Was he married?" and "Did he marry?".

Now to your question; if I understand correctly, you want to know why "Was he married?" is OK while "Did he married?" is not.

The first is a question about his marital state at some point in the past, (married being the past tense of marry), while the second should be a question about whether he actually went through with a marriage and is then "Did he marry?". Here we are talking about the action of marrying, not the state of being married.

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