Many of my students have asked about the word do in English- not the verb “to do,” but the auxiliary word do. As a non-native speaker, this tiny word can be confusing because (almost) no other language has do like English does.
When do you use do in English? How should you use do in English?
Bespeaking is here to answer your questions with this month’s Easy English blog about when to use do in English. There are very clear ways to use this word, so read on for more information!
Or check out this article from the Economist for something a little more challenging: Ask Johnson: What’s the “do” thing doing here?
Do, Does, and Did to ask and answer Questions
Using do, does, and did in questions is simple! Always put it at the beginning of the sentence before the subject. You can also use do, does, and did in questions that can have a yes or no answer.
Do in English is used to ask questions.
There are two exceptions (times when the rule doesn’t work):
Questions starting with the verb “to be”, or the question words what, why, where, when, and how don’t start with do. But do can go with any verb (except for the verb “to be” and modal verbs)!
Use do when you ask a question in the simple present tense. You can form the question like this:
Do + subject + infinitive verb….?
Do is used with the subjects I, you, we, you (plural) or they- everything except he/she/it!
- Do you play piano? (Answer: No.)
- Do they want to go to the movies with me? (Answer: No.)
- Do you speak English? (Answer: Yes.)
You can also use do when you answer questions. Do replaces (takes the place) of the verb. Saying, “Yes, I do” sounds more fluent and like natural English.
A: Do you play basketball?
B: Yes, I do. (Means the same as: Yes, I play basketball.)
Does is much like do. It is used to ask questions in the simple present tense, but it is used with the subjects he, she, and it.
- Does he like chocolate? (Answer: No, or No, he does not.)
A: My dog is well trained.
B: Does it know how to “sit”? (Answer: Yes, or Yes, it does.)
When you want to ask a question in the simple past tense, you can use “did.” It is used like do and does, but for all subjects (I, you, he, she, it, we, you (plural), they) with it.
- Did I forget anything? (Answer: No, or No, you did not.)
- Did he already leave? (Answer: Yes, or Yes, he did.)
Here are some practice questions for you. Fill in the blanks and let us know how you did!
1a) _______ he play the piano?
1b) Yes, he _______ play the piano.
2a) _______ you feed the dog this morning?
2b) Yes, I ________.
3a) ________ they want to come with us?
3b) No, they _______ not. They have other plans.
4a) _________ she speak Spanish?
4b) No, she _______ not. She speaks Italian.
5a) ________ we have plans later?
5b) Yes, we _______. We’re going out to dinner.
1a. Does, b. does
2a. Did, b. did
3a. Do, b. do
4a. Does, b. does
5a. Do, b. do
Did you understand our explanation of the verb do in English? If you still have questions, make sure to ask in the comments below! We’ll answer you as soon as we can.
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Looking for more grammar? Try Tricky Adjectives and Adverbs, when to use Which and That, Order of Adjectives, Its vs It’s, and Present Continuous tense! Looking for more Easy English topics? We have Hotel English Phrases, Daily English Phrases, This, That, These, and Those, and some Collective Nouns?
Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and did her homework for this blog! Phew!
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