I did the cleaning of the car early yesterday.

I did clean the car early yesterday.

Are they both correct?I was studying the use of 'the' when I found the first sentence in which the author said that when being specific , 'the' is used.

Also can we write as 'clean the car at early , yesterday'?

  • [Comment applies to the to original Q before "early yesterday" added.] The first is ungrammatical. You could say "I did the cleaning of the car", but only in extremely rare circumstances, and it means something different than simply "I cleaned the car" (which is what most people would say under normal circumstances). You can also say I did clean the car, though again it's rarer than the normal "I cleaned the car", but it can be used in contexts where you want to add emphasis: "Dad, can I have $5?" / "Son, I told you no allowance until you clean the car" / "But I did clean the car!!".
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 10, 2016 at 11:58

2 Answers 2


The two examples you gave seem grammatically correct, and they are understandable. But they also sound strange. I would simply

I cleaned the car yesterday.

Suppose that I am your mother. Notice that in this sentence, the word the does exactly what the author mentions. It modifies the word car. This is because it should be clear to me and to you which car we are talking about.

Now suppose that yesterday, I ordered you to clean the car as punishment. Now, I ask you, "Did you do what I told you to do?" You reply

(Yes) I did the cleaning.

Notice that I did not specify what I told you to do, so you gave details by say the cleaning. Again, the word the modifies cleaning because it is clear to me and you that we are talking about cleaning the car.

If I asked, "Did you clean the car?", then you can reply

(Yes) I cleaned the car.

or you can be emphatic (extra assertive, add emphasis) and say

(Yes) I did clean the car.

Next, I understand what you mean by

I did clean the car early yesterday.

but to me, it sounds a little strange. I would suggest

I did clean the car, yesterday morning.*

or preferably

I cleaned the car yesterday morning.


Also can we write as 'clean the car at early , yesterday'?

I do not think so, it sounds strange. I cannot point to any specific rule, however, to show that it is incorrect.

* There might be a slight issue with the comma. I want there to be a slight pause between car and yesterday, but a comma might not be the "correct" punctuation to use there. Maybe a dash (--).


I did clean the car early yesterday.

This is valid. Clean is being used emphatically.

To do + { plain form of verb } is called emphatic and one use of this is to emphasize something. The speaker/writer is emphasizing the fact he/she cleaned the car yesterday.

(Side note: emphatic forms are required when asking questions and using not, if the verb is something other than to be or to have - even if no emphasis is meant in these situations.)

I did the cleaning of the car early yesterday.

This is valid. The cleaning is a grammatical concept called the gerund - all gerunds are nouns.

The speaker/writer is using cleaning as a noun to talk about the activity of cleaning, rather than directly about who did the cleaning.

A usual reason for this is if the activity was scheduled or on a list of things to do. So it's possible to see the activity as an "item" or "thing" and therefore it can be "noun-ified."

The is used because the speaker/writer is signaling to the listener/reader that he/she is expected to know and care "which" cleaning. This is derived from context or previous conversation. Again, if on a list of things to do, then the listener/reader would presumably know that the speaker/writer meant the one on the list.

If the person here decided to clean the car, and needed to keep track of each time the car was cleaned (this is another case for "noun-ifying" an activity), then a cleaning might be appropriate.

I clean the car at early, yesterday.

  • Yesterday refers to the past so you would have to say cleaned, not clean.

  • A helpful heuristic is that English rarely uses the simple present tense unless you are narrating, describing or recording what someone is doing in realtime.

  • You can only use at with a specific clock time or time portion of day like morning, noon, night.


I cleaned the car early, yesterday.

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