Monday, 15 October 2012

What Did You Do Yesterday?


This post deals with talking about the past in general, and saying what you did yesterday in particular.


Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or colleague. You are talking about recent events/ activities. The other person wants to know more about your activities yesterday and says to you: "what did you do yesterday?"

In Spanish, the other person could choose to be less formal and say:
¿Qué hiciste ayer?

Alternatively, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say:
¿Qué hizo (usted) ayer?


The question is an invitation for you to say what you did at some time in the past. When you say what you did, you DO NOT need to be concerned about the level of formality in the other person's question. Perhaps you want to mention:

  • Day to day activities
  • Travel/ trips
  • Visits
  • Sport activities
  • Leisure activities

Here are some examples of how you could reply:
  • Ayer me levanté tarde (yesterday I got up late)
  • Ayer fui a Madrid (yesterday I went to Madrid)
  • Ayer fui a ver a mis padres (yesterday I visited my parents)
  • Ayer fui al cine (yesterday I went to the cinema)
  • Ayer fui de compras (yesterday I went shopping)
  • Ayer jugué al tenis (yesterday I played tennis)
  • Ayer vi una película de ciencia ficción (yesterday I watched a sci-fi film)

Talking about the past
Please note that the all the examples above refer to past actions which were completed at a time which also belongs in the past. In other words, the period of time in which the actions in the examples above were completed, i.e. yesterday, is also in the past.

However, sometimes you may wish to talk about past actions which were completed at a time which in Spanish belongs in the present. In other words, the period of time in which the actions were completed is still ongoing. Examples of periods of time which in Spanish belong in the present are: today/ this week/ this month/ this year/ etc. In such cases, it is common to use an alternative form of referring to completed actions, as follows:
  • Hoy me he levantado tarde (today I have got up late)
  • Este mes he ido al cine dos veces (this month I have gone to the cinema twice)
  • Esta semana no he jugado al tenis (this week I have not played tennis)

Now you should practise answering the question:
¿Qué hiciste ayer?

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