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ASK A TEACHER - Using ‘Do' in Positive Statements

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This week, we answer several questions about how to use the verb "do."

Cem in Turkey wants to know what "do" means when used before a present tense verb, such as in the statement, "You do bring up a good point."

Jean-Claude in Belgium wants to know why a Learning English writer put "does" before the verb "restrict" in a statement about Trump and student visas.

Issa in Mali wants to know what it means when we use "do" in statements like, "I do have something."

And Amauri in Brazil wants to know why we might use "do" in a statement like "I did spend too much time."

Answer:

Hello Cem, Jean-Claude, Issa and Amauri!

All of your examples have one thing in common: They use the verb "do" in positive statements.

You probably know that "do" can act as a main verb or an auxiliary verb, depending on how it is used. Your examples use it as an auxiliary verb, also known as a helping verb.

The helping verb 'do'

When "do" is a helping verb, it helps us do many things, such as:

  1. Form questions, as in, "Do you play football?"
  2. Give short answers, as in, "Yes, I do."
  3. Make negative statements, as in, "I do not play football."
  4. (and) Give negative commands, as in, "Do not play football."

We do not normally use the helping verb "do" in positive statements, such as, "I play football." However, we can use it in such statements to show emphasis.

For instance, suppose someone was not sure about whether or not you play football. You might make the answer clear by saying, "I do play football." Or, suppose your friends were saying they play basketball. But you play a different sport: football. You might say, "I don't play basketball. But I do play football."

Use of "do" in the positive statement "I do play football" makes the point stronger or clearer.

Similarly, in the examples you asked about, the helping verb "do" was used to give extra emphasis to the positive.

In speaking, when we use "do" in this way, we say it a little louder than the words around it. Listen again: "I do play football." In writing, we sometimes italicize the word to show the emphasis.

That's Ask a Teacher for this week.

Your questions

What questions do you have about English? Send us an email at learningenglish@voanews.com.

I'm Alice Bryant.

Words in This Story

bring up - v. to mention something when talking

positive - adj. a positive statement states a fact

auxiliary verb - n. a verb that is used with another verb to show the verb's tense, to form a question or to make negative sentences

negative - adj. a negative statement states that something is not true or incorrect

emphasis - n. special importance or attention given to something

italicize - v. to put letters, words or numbers on a slant for emphasis

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