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During my school days, my English teacher taught us that there is something called double past. For example - you don't say -

  1. I didn't went to school yesterday. -> He said with didn't you don't use another past verb form.

So, he corrected us

  1. I didn't go to school yesterday.
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Now, I am a bit confused here.

Incorrect Sentence - 1. She would hold my bicycle from the back to ensure that I don't fell down.

Correct One-

She would hold my bicycle from the back to ensure that I didn't fell down.

I am confused here - didn't + fell -> isn't a double past?

What am I missing here? I have seen that I do this mistake a lot. Please help.

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  • 1
    "Didn't fell" and "don't fell" are both wrong: it should be "didn't fall".
    – nnnnnn
    Jun 13, 2016 at 1:08

1 Answer 1

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He said with didn't you don't use another past verb form.

This is a good heuristic, though I don't recall anything about "double past" in school myself. But it still works.

The technical way to say it is "do can take an auxillary/helping verb, but the only valid auxillary/helping verb for do is the plain or infinitive form (same as present tense)."

She would hold my bicycle from the back to ensure that I don't fell down.

The one you say is correct -

She would hold my bicycle from the back to ensure that I didn't fell down.

is still not correct (if someone told you it was, they are wrong).

Following your heuristic, the right answer is:

She would hold my bicycle fro mthe back to ensure that I didn't fall down.

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  • Is this correct ? She would hold my bicycle from the back to ensure that I don't fell down.
    – dexterous
    Jun 12, 2016 at 23:25
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    @dexterous_stranger: no, it is not correct. As LaurenceC said, when you used do it becomes the main verb in the sentence, and you have to used the other verb in the infinitive (fall) . Here is another example: you can say "Make sure that he goes to school". Note that he requires third person of the verb goes. Now add a do: "make sure that he does go to school". You can see that does is now in the third person, and go is now in the infinitive.
    – JavaLatte
    Jun 13, 2016 at 2:58

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