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'Do' for Emphasis

Ask a Teacher: 'Do' for emphasis
Ask a Teacher: 'Do' for emphasis
'Do' for Emphasis
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Hello! This week on Ask a Teacher, we answer a question from Teacher Sahraoui.


My student answered a question I asked in a written test as follows:

Yes, consumers do adopt new habits.

Shall I consider the answer grammatically incorrect because of the use of auxiliary do, even though the rest of the sentence is ok?

Thanks for answering.


Thanks for writing, Sahraoui. Your question points out an important purpose for “do” in statements.

We know that “do” does many things in English. It can serve as an auxiliary verb in negative statements. For example:

I don’t have any money.

It can also serve as an auxiliary verb in questions:

Does Brent have to work on weekends?

What do you think?

Or it can provide a short answer to a yes/no question.

Yes, I do.

No, I don’t.

In addition to all that, it can make imperatives, or commands, more polite.

Do come in.

“Do” can also be used to make sentences clearer and shorter.

Bill likes to swim, and so does Betty.

You asked if the sentence your student wrote is grammatically incorrect because of the use of “do.” Well, there is one function of “do,” which we have not yet discussed: emphasis.

“Do” is one way users of English bring attention to a whole or part of a message.

A whole sentence can be emphasized by adding “do.” For example:

It does taste good!

We did enjoy the play.

I do want to learn.

The sentence you ask about is grammatically correct. The use of “do” shows emphasis.

I’m not sure if this is what your student meant when he wrote “do.” He might need a little more help with answering questions. But the sentence is grammatically correct.

Please let us know if this explanation has helped you, Sahraoui.

Do you have a question about American English? Send us an email at

And that’s Ask a Teacher.

I’m Gena Bennett.

Gena Bennett wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

functionn. the part that a thing plays; a purpose

emphasisn. special importance, value, or attention