Difference Between Had and Did

Had vs Did

Had and Did are two verbs used in English language that have to be understood with precision, especially when it comes to understanding their meanings and application. Both these words differ from each other in terms of their usage as well.

The word ‘had’ is used as an auxiliary verb in the formation of past perfect tense of the chief verb. On the other hand, the word ‘did’ is used as the past tense form of the verb ‘do’. This is the main difference between the two words, namely, ‘had’ and ‘did’.

It is interesting to note that unlike ‘have’, ‘had’ is used in the formation of past perfect tense in all the three persons, namely, first person, second person and third person. Let us see a few examples,

1. I had given my book to Angela.

2. You had known him for the last few years.

3. She had seen him two years ago.

In all the sentences mentioned above, you can see that the auxiliary verb ‘had’ is used in the formation of past perfect tense forms of the various verbs such as ‘give’, ‘know’ and ‘see’ respectively. The past participle forms are ‘given’, ‘known’ and ‘seen’ respectively. This is an important observation to make in the usage of the auxiliary verb ‘had’.

On the other hand, the verb ‘did’ is also used in the case of all the three persons, namely, first person, second person and third person. It is used as the past tense form of the verb ‘do’ as in the examples,

1. I did the homework for him.

2. You did not understand the question properly.

3. Angela did not run fast.

In all the three sentences given above, you can see that the verb ‘did’ is used as the past tense form of the verb ‘do’. It is also used in the three persons. It is interesting to note that in the second sentence it is used along with another verb ‘understand’ in the negative sense. Likewise, it is used along with another verb ‘run’ in the third sentence in the negative sense. Thus it can be understood that the form ‘did’ can also give negative meaning or sense if used with the word ‘not’.

Another important usage of ‘did’ is that it can be used in the formation of questions too. In short, it can be said that it can be used in interrogative sentences as in the examples

1. Did you not come yesterday?

2. Did I know the truth?

3. Did Francis understand the situation better?

In all the three examples given above you can see that the form ‘did’ is used in interrogative sentences. This is also an important observation to make in the case of the usage of the verb ‘did’.

On the other hand ‘had’ is sometimes used in the sense of ‘if’ as in the sentence ‘Had you come early, we would have been there by now’. In this sentence the word ‘had’ is used in the sense of ‘if’.