If you read last week’s lesson closely, you might have tripped over one of the grammar terms. Unsure what it translates to, you might have asked yourself:
“What means reciprocal?”
It’s a fair question, but phrased awkwardly. We encounter this sentence structure when translating sentences word for word. Time to introduce our first auxiliary verb!
The verb do can be both a main and an auxiliary verb. As a main verb, it describes an action such as participating in sports:
“I do yoga twice a week.”
As an auxiliary verb, it supports the main verb when forming negations or questions:
“I do not do yoga.”
“Do you do yoga?”
One auxiliary do per sentence is enough. Even if something is both a negative expression and a question, we only add one of them:
“Do you not do yoga?”
These sentences contain do twice: once as a main verb, once as an auxiliary verb. If we translated them to German word for word, we would get “Tust du Yoga machen?”, which looks awful. Why do we use phrases like this in English?
Auxiliary verbs do not translate the same way main verbs do. They are there to support the main verb, but don’t get their own spot in a translation. To know when to add a do and when to leave it out, look for patterns in existing language:
- That works not. → That does not work.
- Speak you English? → Do you speak English?
- Got you my message? → Did you get my message?
- Understand you what I mean? → Do you understand what I mean?
What is one sentence you recently heard someone say that was missing an auxiliary do? Send it to email@example.com and help me grow my collection!