Why do we say "Did she have a big family" though "Did she has a big family" looks like the correct form? Could someone explain to me why we switch has to have in questions like that?

  • The short answer: Because you already conjugated the verb "do" (into "did"). You don't have to conjugate the other verb.
    – stangdon
    Apr 29 '16 at 12:15
  1. When a verb takes one or more auxiliary verbs, only the first verb in the chain is finite: conjugated for tense, person and number. The following verbs are cast in non-finite forms: an infinitive or a past or present participle, depending on what construction is employed.

  2. When a form of DO is employed as an auxiliary verb it is always followed by the infinitive form of the main verb.

    Does she have a big family?
    Yes, she does have a big family.
    No, she does not have a big family.

    Did she have a big family?
    Yes, she did have a big family.
    No, she did not have a big family.

Note that the infinitive form of every verb except BE looks the same as the ordinary present form, so it's easy to become confused about this.


'has' is 3rd-person PRESENT tense only.

'have' is 3rd-person PAST tense.

DID is PAST tense, hence use have.

  • 2
    I'm afraid not. The past form of HAVE in all persons and both numbers is had. Does she have...? and Did she have...? are both correct; the form of HAVE used here is the infinitive. Apr 29 '16 at 10:06
  • Oh, true. I failed to think of those. *facepalm
    – Marjorie
    Apr 29 '16 at 10:14

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