Do, Does, and Did for Emphasis

When you’re saying something to someone in English, you can emphasize what you say by stressing the word(s) you want to call attention to. In written English, however, the emphasis is indicated by means of italic, bold, or underlining. Emphasizing what you say or write helps you make your message clearer. In English, this is very common and natural.

Interestingly, you can also used the words do, does, and did to put emphasis on a statement. This is what we call using do, does, and did for emphasis in English. These emphatic statements are also common in spoken English. In order to use them correctly, you have to learn that:

Look at the examples below so as to notice how they are used:

  • He DOES work in a bank. (Ele trabalha sim em um banco.)
  • They DO like living here. (Eles gostam sim de morar aqui.)
  • She DID study German. (Ela estudou sim alemão.)
  • I DID talk to her about it. (Eu falei sim com ela sobre isso.)

When using do, does, and did for emphasis, you have to stress (make prominent) the words “do“, “does“, and “did“. That means that these words have to be pronounced a little bit higher than the others. Put this into practice by writing a couple of sentences in English using this form of emphasis and repeating them out loud. That’s an excellent activity to improve your pronunciation.

Now, keep in mind that this form of emphasis can be used when we’re contradicting what someone is saying in a conversation or when we’re being emotive. For example,

  • Come on! She did live in London. She told me that. (Qual é! Ela morou sim em Londres. Ela me falou isso.)
  • She thinks he doesn’t love her. But the truth is that he does love her. He’s crazy for her! (Ela acha sue ele não a ama. Mas a verdade é sue ele a ama sim. Ele é louco por ela!)
  • Why don’t you take a rest? You do look tired. (Por que você não dá uma descansadinha? Você parece estar muito cansado.)

Using “do“, “does“, and “did” for emphasis is not possible with modal verbs and the verb to be. That is, it’s wrong to say “#We do will go to the party#” or “#I do be a teacher#”. Never say or write this! In these cases what you have to do in order to emphasize the modal verbs or the verb to be is pronounce them higher than the other words in spoken English or underline, bold, italicize them in written English:

  • You must study harder.
  • She is an English language teacher.
  • They should be more careful.

Another thing to notice when using “do“, “does“, and “did” for emphasis is that the following verb does not change. That is, you say or write “she does like me” or “he did go to the party” never say or write “#she does likes me#” or “#he did went to the party#”. Compare these sentences to notice the difference.

There are more things to be said about emphasis in English. However, learning how to use “do“, “does“, and “did” is a little bit enough for today. So, practice this as much as you can. Remember: the more you practice, the better you get.

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