DO (Primary Verb)


  • I don’t understand.
  • Do you like chocolate?
  • Yes, she does.
  • Did you get that?
  • Mom thinks I like tomatoes, but I don’t.
  • Do take a seat.
  • I do like chocolate!

Conjugating DO

DO as an Auxiliary Verb

 DO is the auxiliary verb for Simple time forms: Present Simple and Past Simple.  As these two are Simple forms, they don’t need DO in affirmative -but they do in questions and negations:                                        (exercises)

Present Simple:

Does Jackie like football?          → Do you want another piece of cake?

→ Jackie doesn’t like football.       → I don’t want another piece of cake.

Past Simple:

Did you see the match yesterday?   → Did Joe like the present?

→ We didn’t have time for it.                → Sally didn’t come to work today.

DO as a Lexical Verb

 DO is a primary verb: it can be both auxiliary and lexical (‘normal’) verb. As a lexical verb, it’s easy to confuse it with MAKE: both translate as Spanish hacer.                        (exercises)

 Always use DO when:

  • It means “perform an activity”:
    • “I have to do my homework.”
    • “We have to do something!”
    • “Did you do the washing-up?”
  • With sports whose names are neither games nor the -ing forms of verbs of movement:
    • “She does karate twice a week.”
    • “He did ballet when he was younger.”

  DO as a lexical verb needs DO as an auxiliary in Simple time forms:

  • “Did you do your homework?”
  • “How often do you do karate?”

DO as a Proxy

 DO is cool: it can do (😉) just about anything.

→ DO can replace other verbs you don’t want to repeat.

→ DO can replace predicates you don’t want to repeat.

→ DO can replace other verbs in grammar explanations, and so on.

Other Uses of DO

 We also use DO in imperatives (‘Persuasive DO’) and for emphasis:

  • Do take a seat.” → More authoritative than “Please take a seat.”
  • “But I do like it!” → Someone said you didn’t.

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