I am writing a song about forgiveness and "It does not matter what you did do" perfectly fits into the rhyme scheme while "It doesn't matter what you did" does not.

How awkward does the first sentence sound to native speakers? Would it sound weird to you in a song?

  • The lyric sounds awkward unless you're specifically going for a more literary style. Most pop music fans would balk at it; it requires too much thinking and doesn't have enough profanities. Sep 20, 2021 at 21:01
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    @FeliniusRex I'm not so sure, sometimes slightly odd phrases work well in rhymes and, more particularly, with specific tunes. If the phrase fits the tune and the rhyme perfectly no one will notice the oddity. It's similar to the reason why most cartoon characters have only three fingers and a thumb on each hand, it's wrong but it looks right.
    – BoldBen
    Sep 20, 2021 at 23:48
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    Just a side note: please don't cross-post or double-post on multiple sites. When you post a question here on ELL, you should delete the same question on ELU. Or better yet, next time, you can flag your own ELU post and ask that it be migrated here.
    – Eddie Kal
    Sep 27, 2021 at 1:18

1 Answer 1


"Did" is the past participle of the verb to do, so in some contexts "did do" could be a pointless repetition.

However, we do say "did do", usually to contradict a statement that we did not do something.

For example:

-"You didn't do your homework!"
-"I did do it!"

So, if your previous lyrics discuss something not done, you could perhaps get away with "whatever you did do", otherwise it would sound a bit weird.

Example: "It's not what you didn't do, but what you did do".

  • I disagree with your last paragraph; I think the tense is fine. You even did the same thing in your immediately preceding example: "It is not what you didn't do..."
    – randomhead
    Sep 20, 2021 at 17:40
  • In the OP's example (and in your example I did do it) "did" is not a past participle but an auxiliary verb used for emphasis.
    – BillJ
    Sep 21, 2021 at 6:50
  • @randomhead "Did not do" (which is what 'didn't do' means) is fine. You could say "I didn't do my homework". But nobody would say "I did do my homework", unless to contradict the former example. The usage of one is not the same as the other.
    – Astralbee
    Sep 21, 2021 at 7:43

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