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I often get confused while writing perfect past tense.

When to use did/didn't and when to use verb in third person?

For example from below sentences, which sentence is right?

You didn't added salt in Meal?

or

You didn't add salt in meal?

or

You haven't added salt in meal?

or

You haven't add salt in meal?

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  • The correct sentence would be "You haven't added salt to the meal, because the cook would be transferring salt from the shaker or spoon to the meal.
    – JimM
    Nov 18, 2014 at 15:02
  • Past perfect is You had not added salt to the meal?. Present perfect is You have not added salt to the meal?. Simple past is You didn't add salt to the meal? Aug 17, 2016 at 6:56

2 Answers 2

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There is no past perfect construction in your post.

The auxiliary DO is always followed by a bare infinitive - You didn't add salt to the meal.

In present and past perfect constructions, the auxiliary HAVE is always followed by a third form (past participle. - You haven't/hadn't added salt to the meal.

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  • I have to mentioned that cooking is completed/meal is ready, and while testing I have to use the sentence. what would be the correct sentence ?
    – bnil
    Nov 19, 2014 at 6:25
  • @user1650894. Both are possible. In this situation the speaker could be thinking merely of the past failure to add salt (You didn't add ..) .or of the present consequence of the past failure (You haven't added ...).
    – tunny
    Nov 19, 2014 at 18:50
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I'm a bit confused by your question, too, but I'll try to sort through it. The pronoun, You, is second person. Although, third person pronouns, He or She, wouldn't change the sentence construction. did(n't) add looks like a past perfect verb to me, with did being the helper verb to make it a perfect. Apparently, that claim could be disputed.

Whether to use didn't or haven't would depend on the situation. If the meal is already cooked, you'd say, "You didn't add salt to the meal." (Note: The way this sentence is worded, use article the before meal.) If the cook is in the process of preparing the meal, and adding salt is one of the steps, you'd say, "You haven't added salt to the meal."

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    Sorry for confusing, I have to mentioned that cooking is completed/meal is ready, and while testing I have to use the sentence.
    – bnil
    Nov 19, 2014 at 6:24
  • You clarified your intention of the sentence quite well. You're testing the meal after it's been cooked. The correct statement remains "You didn't add salt to the meal."
    – JimM
    Nov 19, 2014 at 13:36

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