As you learn about verb tenses in English, you’ll notice that some verbs don’t always follow the rules for conjugation. You’ll also notice that asking a question can prompt a verb tense change that doesn’t follow the same rules as a statement. For example, is it correct to say, “How did your day went”?
It’s incorrect to say, “How did your day went?” The correct rendition of the sentence is, “How did your day go?” This question is in the past simple tense, using the verbs “did” and “go” to ask about something that occurred in the past and is no longer happening.
Today, we will clarify how the verbs “go” and “did” work in the past simple tense while defining the past simple tense. We will also look at auxiliary verbs and forming verbs in a question, which will be very important for learning conversational English.
“Go” Is Irregular
You need to memorize the different forms of the verb “go” because it doesn’t follow the -d and -ed rules for the past tense. Here is a chart to help you remember.
|Pronoun||Present tense/Base form||Past tense|
Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Hey, wait a minute. Your chart shows that ‘go’ is present and ‘went’ is past. We are talking about something that happened in the past, so shouldn’t it be ‘How did your day went’?”
Is It Grammatically Correct to Say, “How Did Your Day Went”?
No. It should still be “How did your day go?” Here’s why:
Yes, “went” is the past tense form of “go.” However, we are working with a question here, not a statement. Statements such as “She went to school today” and “He ran across the field” are about the past.
However, when we pose a question about something that happened in the past instead of stating something that happened in the past, we have to follow some new rules.
First, to make it a question, we have to add an interrogative word like “how,” “when,” “where,” or “why” to the beginning of the sentence. So, in our case, the interrogative word is “how.”
Then, we have to add another verb to the sentence. In this case, we are adding the verb “do” in its past simple tense form “did” so that we can ask about something that happened in the past and is no longer happening. In our case, the “something that happened” is “your day.”
Lastly, we have to take our original verb and switch it to its base form, “go.” Why is that? Let’s explain our new rules for posing a question in more depth.
Did Is an Auxiliary Verb
Did is one of a handful of special verbs we use in English called auxiliary verbs. Auxiliary verbs add context to a sentence to set the tone or tense or create a mood for a sentence. Some other common auxiliary verbs are “have,” “be,” “will,” and “must” (source).
Since we are talking about completed events that happened in the past, we need to use the past simple tense form of our auxiliary verb “do.” The past simple tense of “do” is “did.”
Now, we need to figure out what to do with our second verb, “go.”
A good rule of thumb in English grammar is, when you start off a question about the past with an auxiliary verb, the next verb that follows will appear in its base form.
The base form of “go” is just “go.”
So, for our example, should it be “How did your day went”? Should it be, “How do your day go”? Or, should it be, “How did your day go”?
Remember, we first use the past simple tense of our auxiliary verb “do,” which is “did.”
Then, we follow it with our second verb in its base form. If we look back at our chart, we can see that the base form of our second verb, “go,” is just “go.”
That leads us to the proper structure of our question. So, how do you use, “How did your day go”?
When Can You Use “How Did Your Day Go”?
There are many instances where you can use this question during a conversation. Most generally, people use this expression during small talk with strangers or to check up on their loved ones.
It is a pretty broad statement, though, so let’s look at the question in the context of work or school.
In What Context Can You Say, “How Did Your Day Go”?
This is a very common question people receive when they arrive home from work or school in the evening.
But, why ask the question if, technically, the whole day isn’t over? It’s not past midnight or into the next day. After all, they still have to eat dinner, spend time with family, and go to bed.
Well, it’s simply a way of asking about a portion of someone’s day that is now over; school or work are completed events in the past.
So, when people say, “How did your day go?” they are really asking, “How did your workday go?” or “How did your school day go?”
You can also ask this question if you know that someone has a big event, project, or presentation.
For example, if your spouse has an important meeting, you might ask, “How did your day go?” when they get home as a way to show genuine curiosity about their big meeting.
It’s confusing, we know, but hang tight with us on this one because we use it all the time in English.
If you and your spouse both have a pre-understanding that the meeting was important and challenging, then asking, “How did your day go?” is a way to ask if the meeting went well indirectly.
Still, you don’t always have to use this question in the context of work or school — those are just two very common scenarios.
If you’re tired of asking this same question over and over again, we have some better, alternative questions you can ask.
What Can You Use Instead of “How Did Your Day Go”?
Asking someone, “How did your day go?” is pretty broad and maybe even boring. However, there are many more specific and interesting questions you can ask your friends and family.
You could ask any of the following:
- What was the best part of your day?
- Was your meeting productive today? In what ways?
- What is something interesting that happened at school today?
- Did you learn anything new at school today?
- Did your science presentation go as you hoped it would?
- You look upset. Would you like to tell me what happened to make you feel that way?
These are all far more specific than simply asking someone how their day went. You should use these, especially if you know something important or stressful happened to your friend or loved one during work or school.
Still, the question, “How did your day go?” can seem insincere or robotic after a while. For many English speakers, it becomes routine just to get a conversation going. Asking more specific questions can prompt a more honest and sincere response.
When Not to Use, “How Did Your Day Go?”
You wouldn’t use “How did your day go?” in a few different instances.
Firstly, you wouldn’t typically use this when you come into the workplace after a weekend. Typically, on a Monday morning at the office, you would say, “How was your weekend?”
Secondly, you wouldn’t use this if you’re trying to check up on someone after a loss of some sort. For that, you would ask, “How are you doing?” or “How are you holding up?”
Thirdly, you wouldn’t ask someone how their day was if you’re inquiring about something that happened during the prior evening, like if your friend had a date. For this, you would ask, “How did last night go?” or “How was your night?”
Using “How Did Your Day Go?” in a Full Sentence
If you like the question, “How did your day go?” you can also add to it to make it more personal. Although the question is already a full sentence on its own, you can appeal to your audience more intimately if you add more substance to your inquiry.
For instance, if you’re speaking to your spouse or child, you could say, “How did your day go, sweetheart?”
Or, let’s say you’ve gotten familiar with a cashier at your local grocery store. Maybe you walk in towards the end of their shift to grab some eggs. In that instance, you might say, “Hi Howard, how did your day go? Was it very busy this afternoon?”
These are simple ways to express more interest in the person you’re talking to.
Is It “A Day Well Spent” or “A Day Well Spend”?
Let’s look at an example using the words “spent” and “spend.” Is it “a day well spent” or “a day well spend”? In this example, the correct usage is “a day well spent.” Let’s explain why.
As you navigate your way through learning about verbs in English, remember to set them apart from adjectives.
For review, adjectives are words that modify nouns. In contrast, verbs are words that express actions. Sometimes, our verbs and adjectives look really similar to each other, which can confuse readers about their true meaning.
Day off Well Spent Meaning
And, if you’re unfamiliar, “well spent” is an expression in conversational English that basically means you’re satisfied with how you used your time.
The word “spent” can act as either an adjective or a verb, depending on the context of the sentence.
So, in English, you can use “spent” as a verb by saying something like, “I spent all my money at the game.” In this scenario, you’re using the verb “spend” in the past tense form “spent” to describe that you actively used all of your money at the game.
Conversely, you can use “spent” as an adjective by saying something like, “That was a day off well spent,” meaning you used your day off wisely and enjoyed whatever it was that you did.
What Is the Past Simple Tense?
The past simple is a verb tense we use to describe completed actions that happened in the past, before now (source). The key part here is that the actions are completed.
Here are a few example sentences:
- She worked today.
- He called me on the phone.
- I walked across the street.
These are examples of events in the past that are completed and are no longer happening.
But, what about things that happened more than once in the past? Can you still use the past simple tense? Yes, you can. The past simple tense can function to describe actions that took place in the past over a period of time, as long as they are completed (source).
Here are a few examples of what we mean:
- She worked every day last summer.
- He called me on the phone once a week.
- I walked across the street frequently.
All of these were recurring events in the past. Like the other events, they happened in the past, and they are no longer happening. So, we can use the past simple tense to describe them.
Do you notice a pattern with these sentences? Maybe that all of our verbs end with -ed?
All of the verbs we used in our examples are what we call regular verbs. These are verbs that end with -d or -ed in the past tense.
Along with regular verbs, there are also irregular verbs, which don’t follow the same rules that regular verbs do.
So, let’s break down regular and irregular verbs and show how we use them in the past simple tense.
Regular and Irregular Verbs
Many languages have regular and irregular verbs. The use of regular and irregular verbs has everything to do with how to conjugate verbs and nothing to do with how commonly, or regularly, we use them in English.
For a more in-depth explanation of irregular versus regular verbs, we have another lesson you can read through in “Past Tense of Run: Understanding Regular and Irregular Verb Tenses.”
We will still give you a pretty good overview here, though.
What’s the Difference Between Regular and Irregular Verbs?
The difference between regular and irregular verbs is how we conjugate them in a sentence. Regular verbs are sort of like well-behaved children. They are predictable, and they behave properly in a sentence.
The formula for conjugating a regular verb to the past simple tense is the base verb plus -d or -ed at the end. For additional examples of how to use this formula, please see “What Happen or What Happened: Understanding Grammar and Usage.”
We add -d to the end when the base verb already ends with an -e.
- arrive + d = arrived
We add -ed when the verb ends with a consonant.
- talk + ed = talked
There are a couple of spelling caveats to this, but this is the general rule that most regular verbs follow.
Let’s put this into action using our verbs from earlier.
Remember, we used the verbs “work,” “call,” and “walk.” Since they all end with consonants, we will use our formula of base verb plus -ed. When we do that, our verbs become “worked,” “called,” and “walked.” They all follow the correct pattern, ending with -ed in the past tense.
Irregular verbs, on the other hand, do not end with -d or -ed. They are sort of like the kids who misbehave. They follow their own path and look completely different from the regular verbs.
Because of this, you can’t predict how they will form in the past, so you’ll have to memorize the irregular verb conjugations. Unfortunately, there’s no way around this, so the only way to learn them is to memorize them.
Here are some common irregular verbs in their past simple tense forms:
The verb “go” turns into “went.”
- She went to school.
The verb “run” turns into “ran.”
- He ran across the field.
The verb “do” turns into “did.”
- I did my homework.
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
All of these events are completed. They happened in the past, and they are no longer happening.
We took a lot of twists and turns to get to the correct version of our question, “How did your day go?” We learned about when and how to use it, the past simple tense, regular and irregular verbs, auxiliary verbs, and forming questions in the past.
After going through so much to understand the sentence structure, is it really even worth it to use this question? Yes! This question is very important in conversational English. People ask it almost every single day, so it’s definitely worth your time to learn how to ask it properly.