“Do” vs. “Does”: How and When to Use Them (AUDIO Reading Included)
Recommended level: Beginner
Do and does are the present simple forms of the irregular English verb do.
Do and Does are used in present simple statements and questions.
Do and Does can be used as main verbs in affirmative sentences ("He does the dishes every day"), or as auxiliary verbs in questions ("Where do you work?").
Do is used with the subjects I, you, we, and they, and with subjects which refer to these pronouns ("Do Dan and Teresa (they) have a car?").
Does is used with the third person singular subjects he, she, and it, and with subjects which refer to these pronouns ("Marcus (He) does his homework on Saturdays").
The negative form of do is do not (contracted form: don't).
The negative form of does is does not (contracted form: doesn't).
Do is an irregular English verb. Do and does are the present simple forms of do. Here are some example sentences with these verbs.
"Rita does yoga every morning."
"Do your best."
"I do the dishes and my wife does the laundry."
In these sentences, do and does are used as the main verbs. They describe the main action in each sentence. You can do many things. For example, you can do exercise, do a test, do a good job, or even do nothing. Now, let's look at some more examples of do and does as the main verbs in a sentence, and let's learn when to use them.
For the best learning experience, listen to the audio and repeat the example sentences below.
When to use do
Use do with the pronouns I, you, we, and they, and with subjects which refer to these pronouns. For example:
"I do karate two times per week."
"You do it first, and then I will follow."
"Jim and I do a lot of work every day." (In this sentence, "Jim and I" can be replaced by the pronoun "we.")
"Gerald and Becky always do their grocery shopping together." (In this sentence, "Gerald and Becky" can be replaced by the pronoun "they.")
When to use does
Use does with the third person pronouns he, she, and it, and subjects which refer to these pronouns. For example:
"Mahmoud always does a good job."
"She does her homework after dinner."
"This computer does a lot of amazing things." (In this sentence, "this computer" can be replaced by the pronoun "it.")
To practice, answer this question: Who does the dishes in your house?
Okay, now you see how to use do and does as the main verbs in present simple sentences, but do and does also serve another very important function: They act as auxiliary verbs in present simple questions.
How to use do and does in present simple questions
To form a closed "yes or no" question with do or does in the present simple, we use the form do/does + subject + infinitive/base verb. The use of do or does depends on the subject. Let's look at five examples (Don't forget to listen and repeat each example):
"Do you want this?"
"Does she have any pets?"
"Do they need any help?"
"Do I look okay?"
"Does the company offer medical benefits?"
You can answer these questions with the short affirmative responses "Yes, I do," "Yes, you do," "Yes, she does," and so on. The short negative responses are "No, I don't," "No, you don't," "No, she doesn't," and so on. (Keep reading if you want to learn more about negative forms!)
For open questions that begin with the words who, what, where, when, why, and how, we use almost the same structure as above. Just add the question word in front. The structure is Wh- word + do/does + subject + infinitive/base verb. Here are six examples:
"Who do you want for this job?"
"What does he do?" (This question means "What is his job?" or "What does he do in life?")
"Where do you live?"
"When do you wake up in the morning?"
"Why do they go to sleep at midnight?"
"How does she get to the office every day?"
There are many more question structures in English, but in order to stay focused on our topic, this page will only discuss the structures above.
But wait! We have only practiced affirmative sentences. What about negative declarative sentences and negative questions? Let's look at them together.
The negative forms and uses of do and does
The negative form of do is do not, and the negative form of does is does not. In speaking and in informal writing, these words are usually contracted as don't and doesn't. Here are some examples (Remember to listen and repeat):
"I don't need your help."
"She doesn't work here anymore." ("Anymore" means she worked here before, but she doesn't work here now.)
"They don't believe that we can win."
"He doesn't like seafood."
"You don't have to do this."
"We don't own a car."
"This fruit doesn't look fresh."
And now, here are some examples of negative questions for you to practice:
"Why doesn't she buy a new one?"
"Don't you like pop music?" (In this example, I think you like pop music and I am verifying if it's true.)
"What doesn't she have?"
"Who doesn't want one?"
"Doesn't she live there?" (This is the same as the pop music example before. I think she lives there, but I am not 100% sure, so I am verifying the information with someone.)
Where, when, and how can be used in negative questions with don't and doesn't, but it isn't very common. However, here are some examples to satisfy your curiosity:
"Where don't penguins live?"
"When doesn't it rain in London?" (This could be a sarcastic question.)
"How don't you know that?"
I hope you feel more comfortable with using do and does in the present simple, and that you will recognize them more easily when you hear them in English contexts. To continue improving, practice repeating the examples on this page.
As a bonus, here is some more grammatical information about the verb do:
Present simple: do and does ("Where do you live?" / "Where does she live?")
Past simple: did ("She did her homework.")
Present participle: doing ("I'm doing my best.")
Past participle: done ("Have you done your taxes?")
Remember, there is always more to learn.
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