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do in English – auxiliary and main verb

Is do an auxiliary or a main verb?

The verb do can be an auxiliary verb or a main verb in English.

1. do as a main verb

1.1. do as a main verb in Simple Present (do, does, don’t, doesn’t)

PronounsAffirmative sentencesNegative sentencesQuestions
Ido the cleaning.do not do the cleaning.*Do I do the cleaning?*
youYou do the cleaning.You do not do the cleaning.*Do you do the cleaning?*
he, she, itHe does the cleaning.He does not do the cleaning.*Does he do the cleaning?*
we, you, theyThey do the cleaning.They do not do the cleaning.*Do they do the cleaning?*

1.2. do as a main verb in Simple Past (did, didn’t)

PronounsAffirmative sentencesNegative sentencesQuestions
I, he, she, it, we, you, theyShe did the cleaning.She did not do the cleaning.**Did she do the cleaning?**

1.3. do as a main verb – past participle (done)

PronounsAffirmative sentencesNegative sentencesQuestions
I, you, we, you, theyWe have done the work.We have not done the work.Have we done the work?
he, she, itHe has done the work.He has not done the work.Has he done the work?

1.4. do as a main verb (Present Continuous, Gerund, present participle) – (doing)

affirmativenegative
I am doing the cleaning.I am not doing the cleaning.
Doing the cleaning is my job.Not doing the cleaning get me in trouble.
I saw Susan doing the cleaning.I didn’t see Susan doing the cleaning.

2. do as an auxiliary

2.1. do as an auxiliary in negations in the Present Simple

don’t do the cleaning in the mornings.*

2.2. do as an auxiliary in negations in the Past Simple

didn’t do the cleaning yesterday morning.**

2.3. do as an auxiliary in questions in the Present Simple

Do you like football? – Does he like football?

When do you play football? When does he play football?

2.4. do as an auxiliary in questions in the Past Simple

Did you phone Susan last night?

When did you last see her?

2.5. do with the negative imperative

Don’t drop rubbish here.


* Here we use do in the negative sentence as an auxiliary verb and do as a main verb.

** Here we use did in the negative sentence as an auxiliary verb and do as a main verb.