Home » Intermediate English Grammar » The Auxiliary Verb Do

The Auxiliary Verb Do

As an auxiliary verb, do (does/did) is typically used to form questions and negative statements. Sometimes do is used to emphasize contradiction to something that has already been said.

  • For the most part I don’t like dogs, but I do like my father’s German shepherd.

There are two types of questions: closed questions (also called yes/no questions) and information questions. Yes/no questions, as the name suggests, are questions that can be answered by yes or no.

  • Does he live in New York? Yes, he does.
  • Do they understand English? No, they don’t.
  • Did you get my letter? No, I didn’t.

Information questions are open questions that ask for information by using a question word.

  • Where does he live? He lives in New York.
  • When did she arrive? She arrived yesterday.

A specific pattern is generally employed to form information questions: question word + do + subject + main verb. Does is used in questions where the subject is in the third-person singular (he, she, it). Do is used with all other persons. Did is used in the past tense.

  • Where does she live? She lives here.
  • Where do they live? They live here.
  • Where did he live? He lived here.

There are affirmative sentences (The moon is white.), and there are negative sentences (The moon is not white.). The word not is used to express negation. Except for the verb be and auxiliaries, verbs require a form of the auxiliary do to make a negative statement.

  • He is not at home at the moment.
  • You must not play ball in the street.


  • They do not speak a word of Spanish.
  • The students did not have enough time for the exam.

Negative verb phrases are generally formed as follows.

donotgo thereI do not go there.
doesnotgo thereHe does not go there.
didnotgo there James did not go there.

It is common to combine do, does, and did with not to form a contraction.

  • don’t go there.
  • He doesn’t go there.
  • James didn’t go there.

There are other negative adverbs in addition to notrarely, never, seldom, scarcely (ever), hardly (ever), and barely (ever).

You should avoid using double negatives. Whereas writing “I do not have any money” is grammatically correct, writing (or even saying) “I do not have no money” is confusing and grammatically incorrect, because it contains two negatives in the same clause (do not + no). A clause should contain only one negative (do not or no).

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