'Do' can be an auxiliary verb or a main verb. We can also conjugate it. In this lesson, we will learn more about it.

How to Use the Verb "Do" in the English Grammar

The verb do is used very often in English grammar. The verb do is used as an auxiliary verb or a main verb. In this lesson, we will learn all about it.

Functions of 'Do'

  1. Auxiliary Verb
  2. Main Verb

1. 'Do' as an Auxiliary Verb


Do as an auxiliary verb has no specific meaning and it is used to help make a question or a negation. Have a look:

I work hard. → Do you work hard?/ I do not work hard.

'Work' is the simple present tense, so 'do' is needed to make a question or negation.

I tried to talk to him. → Did you try to talk to him?/ I did not try to talk to him.

'Tried' is the simple past tense, so 'did' is used.

  • Do is used to emphasize the verb. For example:

I do know what I say.

The speaker emphasizes what they know.

He did go there. I witnessed it.


The verb to be is the only main verb that does not take the auxiliary verb 'do' in questions or negations. Look:

She is a doctor. → Is she a doctor?/ She is not a doctor.

Position in a Sentence

The auxiliary verb do mainly comes before the main verb. Remember that in short answers, it can be used alone. For example:

Do you know what I mean?

I don't know.

A : Do you understand?

B : Yes, I do.

Contraction & Negation of 'Do'

This table shows some examples of the negation and negative contractions of the verb do:

negation negative contraction
I do I do not I don't
she does she does not she doesn't
they do they do not they don't
I did I did not I didn't

For example:

I didn't go there.

She doesn't think like that.

2. 'Do' as a Main Verb


Do as the main verb contributes to the meaning of the sentence. Take a look:

  • Do as the main verb is a dummy verb in this structure: do + noun. Look:

I do my homework.

I did chemistry at university.

  • Do as a main verb means 'to perform, to act.' For example:

Do what you want.

What is he doing in the kitchen?

Position in a Sentence

The verb do as the main verb acts like other main verbs and expresses the action of the doer. To make a question or negation, we still need the auxiliary verb 'do.' For example:

I do my laundry. → I don't do my laundry./ Do you do your laundry?

The underline words are auxiliary verbs.

Remember that modal verbs and the auxiliary verb have are prioritized when we have the main verb do in a sentence. For example:

I will do chemistry at university. → Will you do chemistry?/ I will not do chemistry.

She had done her homework. → Had she done her homework?


Here is the conjugation of the verb 'do.' Look:

  • present
singular plural
I do we do
you do you do
he/she does they do
  • past
singular plural
I did we did
you did you did
she/he did they did
  • past participle
singular plural
I have done we have done
you have done you have done
she/he has done they have done
  • progressive
singular plural
I am doing we are doing
you are doing you are doing
she/he is doing they are doing


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