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Learning English as a second language is more than acquiring lots of vocabulary. There’s also the need to learn the different verbs that are used to make more complex sentences to make speech richer, like the verb to do. This is one of the most common verbs in this language, and it can also be one of the most tricky ones to learn due to its different conjugations and meanings.

Do and Does: Meaning of the Verb “To Do”

The verb “to do” has two different meanings: - when used as the main verb, it means to perform or execute an action or to prepare something. Also, it’s used to ask a person how his or her day is going.
- when used as an auxiliary verb, it doesn’t have a meaning, but it helps make questions and negative sentences.

Every time this verb is mentioned, one of this two words is most likely to come up: do or does. But, what do they mean? These are both a type of present form of the verb to do, the only difference is that one is used with one particular pronoun, while the other one is used with another. Both have the same uses and meanings, which will depend mostly on the function the verb has in the sentence.

For the little ones, this might be confusing at the beginning, but it doesn’t have to be. To start learning this, it’s recommended to begin with the main uses of the verb to do, these are as a main verb, where it has a specific meaning, or as an auxiliary verb, where it doesn’t have a particular meaning, but where it’s very useful as well since it helps make negative sentences and questions with the verbs that can’t do this on their own.

Examples of the verb “to do” as the main verb:

I’m home! I’m going to do my homework right now.
Linda does comedy. She’s very funny!
John and I are going on a picnic, We will do the sandwiches for lunch.
Can you do me a favor? Sure, tell me!
How are you doing today? I’m doing great, thanks for asking!
Do you do sculptures too? Yes, I do paintings and sculptures.

Forms of “To Do”

There are four distinct ways of the verb “to do” that can be used, and these can be used to form questions, negatives, and even to construct more complex tenses.

Present Form of “To Do”

do/does

I do

you do

he does

she does

it does

we do

you do

they do

This is the most common form of the verb, and it is used mostly to make the simple present of “to do”, or to form the present tense. Depending on the subject of the sentence, there are two different ways of writing the to do: do and does.

Present Simple - Verb To Do

Examples of the verb “to do” as the main verb

James does the dishes every night after dinner.
Laura and I do our own yard work during the weekends.
We do the taxes on time.

Past Form of “To Do”

did

I did

you did

he did

she did

it did

we did

you did

they did

The past of the to do verb is the word “did”. It is used for all the different subjects, so it’s very easy to use. It is used mostly to make questions, negative and affirmative sentences in the simple past of “to do”, and to form some other complex past tenses.

Past simple - Verb to do

Examples of the verb “to do” in simple past

Ellen did her homework last night at her house.
Marla and James didn’t go to the party
Sandy did the same exercise as last week.
I did the dishes in the morning.

Past Participle of “To Do”

done

Done - Verb To Do

The past participle of to do is the word “done”, which is used mainly to form the perfect tense of a sentence, and also the passive tenses, to express a completed action. It can also be used as an adjective when someone wants to express that something that has come to and end.

Examples of the verb “to do” in simple past

She has already done her homework.

What have you done since you got home?

I’ve done my homework since the teacher assigned it.

Continuous Form of “to do”

doing

Doing - Verb To Do

The continuous form of the “to do” verb is the word “doing”, which is used to form the progressive tense.

Examples of the verb “to do” in the progressive tense

You are doing your homework now.
Sandra and Parker are doing great at school today. I’ve doing karate for five years now.

Future form of “to do”

will do

I will do

you will do

he will do

she will do

it will do

we will do

you will do

they will do

As with all future forms of the verbs, the future form of the to do is formed with the word “will” and the verb “do” together, this is used to speak about things that are yet to come.

Will do - Verb To Do

Examples of the verb “to do” in the future tense

She will do the dishes as soon as she gets home.

If Larry finishes his homework now, he will do exercises later.

Lara will do a small celebration for her birthday.

Negative sentences with “to do”

I do not - I don’t - I didn’t

you do not - you don’t - you didn’t

he does not - he doesn’t - he didn’t

she does not - she doesn’t - she didn’t

it does not - it doesn’t - it didn’t

we do not - we don’t - we didn’t

you do not - you don’t - you didn’t

they do not - they don’t - they didn’t

Since most verbs don’t have negatives of their own, their negative forms are built with the “to do” verb. The negative of ºto do” in simple present are do not (don’t) and does not (doesn’t), depending on the subject that’s being used in the sentence, whereas the negative of to do in the simple past is did not (didn’t).

On the other hand, the affirmative sentences with “to do” as an auxiliary verb have a very particular use. In this case, the “to do” is used to give emphasis to what’s being said. For example, when saying “I make dinner for my family”, and by putting the auxiliary “to do” in front, the sentence is transformed into “I do make dinner for my family”, and even though it means the same, it emphasizes the idea that this person prepares a meal for his or her relatives.

Examples of to do as an auxiliary verb with negative and affirmative sentences

I do clean my room often.
She does help her mom all the time!
Linda and Eric do go to the same school.
She doesn’t know the teacher, today is her first class.
Patricia and Jade don’t have a dog, they have a cat.
Pete and I don’t have Geography today, but we do have math.

Questions With the Verb “To Do”

Yes or no questions with “to do”

Do I … ?

Do you … ?

Does he … ?

Does she … ?

Does it … ?

Do we … ?

Do you … ?

Do they … ?

The to do verb is used to form yes or no questions, these type of questions in English are those that can be answered with a simple “yes” for affirmatives, or “no” for negatives, and don’t require any extra information to provide a satisfactory answer.

The questions with «to do» in past simple are formed by adding “did”, the subject, and then the complement and the question mark. These are questions about events or actions that happened in the past.

Yes or no questions - Verb To Do

Wh- questions with “to do”

What do I/you/we/they … - What does he/she/it …

Where do I/you/we/they ... - Where does he/she/it ...

Who do I/you/we/they ... - Who does he/she/it ...

When do I/you/we/they ... - When does he/she/it ...

Why do I/you/we/they ... - Why does he/she/it ...

Which do I/you/we/they … - Which does he/she/it …

Whose ... do I/you/we/they ... - Whose ... does he/she/it ...

How do I/you/we/they ... - How does he/she/it ...

When making questions with the wh- question words, the verb to do is also necessary for most verbs. The structure is very simple, depending if it’s past or present, all that needs to be done is to put the correct form of “to do” in front of the subject. Let’s see some examples with this type of questions.

Wh- Questions - Verb To Do

Examples of questions with “to do” verb

When do you go to school?
How do you use your calculator?
Which language do you prefer: English or Chinese?
When does Mary go swimming?
Hi! Are you new in the neighborhood? Where do you live?
When did you move here?
Do you want to go to the beach?
Did Sheila buy new socks yesterday?

Differences Between Do and “Make”

Even though these two verbs can be fairly similar sometimes, their meaning is quite different. The verb “to do” is used mainly to talk about actions, like “I’m doing exercise now”, or even when talking about something that’s mandatory for a person, like an obligation, for example, “I have to do the chores today”. Also, the “to do” verb is used to talk about tasks that are repetitive, like in the sentence “I do my homework every day”.

On the contrary, the verb “to make” is used when talking about things that are usually created, like “I’m making a painting” or “She is making breakfast”, or when talking about the origin of something, like in the sentence “This necklace is made of gold”. Also, when talking about decisions, like “I’m making a plan to go to the pool this weekend”.

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