Did vs. Done: Difference Explained (Helpful Examples)

The past tense is one of the hardest things to wrap your head around with English. It comes with so many rules and structures, and each verb requires different past tense forms. This article will explore the past tense of “did” and how you can understand what form works when.

Did or Done: Which Is Correct?

“Did” is correct when using the simple past tense to show that something started happening and finished happening in the past. “Done” is the past participle of “do,” which we use with auxiliary verbs to mean that something could happen based on the tense we work with.

Did or done - Which is correct?

Naturally, the simple past tense, “did,” is much easier to understand. These two examples will show you the key differences between both forms:

  • I did my homework before I even made it home!
  • I have done everything that you’ve asked of me.

“Did” requires no extra language rules. We write it to show that something is already done.

Auxiliary verbs are incredibly important when using the past participle. We need “have” and “done” in the same sentence in the second example because that’s how we create the present perfect tense to show that something has started happening in the past and continues in the present.

Past ParticipleDone
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When Is “Did” Correct?

Let’s start by exploring both forms slightly more. This will help you to understand them and how they work.

“Did” is correct as the simple past tense. When we want to refer to a thing that we did in the past, we can use “did” with whatever pronoun or object that “did” it.

“Did” is easy to use, and if all past tense forms followed the same simplistic rules, English would be a much easier language to learn. There are no extra forms or verbs that we might need to get this one right.

Example Sentences Using “Did”

The following examples will help you to see how “did” works best.

  1. I did everything that you asked of me, and now I’m doing my own thing.
  2. I did it! I can’t believe I finally did it!
  3. She did it with me, and now she’s gone home.
  4. We did it together, which made our victory all the sweeter.
  5. They did this, didn’t they! I’ll have their heads for this.
  6. You did what? I can’t believe you did those foolish things.

“Did” works when someone has done something in the past, and there’s nothing we can do in the present to change the outcome of whatever happened.

When Is “Done” Correct?

“Done” requires a little more thought. It’s not as simple as “did”, and it comes with certain rules that must be followed to make sure we get the form correct.

“Done” is the past participle of “to do.” On its own, it doesn’t work. It requires an auxiliary verb like “have,” which changes it into the present perfect tense. We can use the past, present, or future perfect tenses depending on the auxiliary that we use with it.

Each perfect tense has a different set of rules that it follows, and they usually mean that something has started happening or will start happening, based on something in the present.

The three forms are:

  • Past perfect: Had done
  • Present perfect: Have done
  • Future perfect: Will have done

It’s not often you’ll come across the past perfect tense, but when you do, you’ll need to know what it means. We use it to show that something has happened in the past, but there might still be something we can do to affect it in the future.

The present perfect tense is much more common, and it refers to doing something in the past and finishing or completing that thing in the present.

The future perfect uses “will” and “have” as auxiliary verbs, and we use them to talk about a situation that might occur in the future based on the choices we make in the present.

Example sentences using “Done”

Some examples will help you to understand the phrase, but we’ll split it into each perfect tense to make them easier for you to understand.

Past Perfect

  1. I had done everything I needed to do, so I made the mistake of going home early.
  2. I had done what I was told, but apparently, that wasn’t enough for my boss.

“Had done” is the past perfect tense. We use it to talk about something we did in the past, and there is some effect or impact that we’re carrying with us in the present.

Present Perfect

  1. I have done the chores you asked of me! Can I go now
  2. I have done the tasks you needed from me, and I’ve put them on your desk.

“Have done” is the present perfect tense. It refers to something we started doing in the past, but we might have finished doing them at that moment in the present, or we might still be doing them going into the future.

Future Perfect

  1. I will have done everything on my agenda before Tuesday if I play my cards right.
  2. I will have done too many things this week if I’m not careful.

“Will have” is the future perfect tense. We use this to set up hypothetical future scenarios that might occur based on our actions in the present. It’s up to us if we then want to change those actions or keep them up.

“Have Did” Vs. “Have Done”

Now that we’ve covered everything that’s important about the differences, this section should be easy.

“Have done” is correct because we need the auxiliary “have” with the past participle “done.” “Have did” is never correct because the simple past tense “did” doesn’t require an auxiliary verb like “have” to make sense.

  • Correct: I have done my homework.
  • Incorrect: I have did my homework.

Final Thoughts

We use “did” as the simple past tense of “done” to say that something happened in the past. “Done” is the perfect tense, which is much more difficult to understand. However, once you understand auxiliary verbs like “have”, “done” becomes much easier to work with.

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