The moon itself rotates, but it does so very slowly.

In this sentence, what is the word "does" referring to, "rotates" or "itself rotates"?

  • "Does so" refers to the verb rotates. You can even replace "does so" with "rotates" in the second sentence without changing its (the second sentence's) meaning.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 13, 2017 at 12:20
  • Are there differences between the word "does" and "does so" for making a question of "reference"?
    – Aung Thu
    Jun 13, 2017 at 12:30
  • 1
    Yes, you wouldn't say "but it does very slowly", because the "does" requires something else following it that links back to the action. Consider the alternative form "but it does this very slowly". Does this, does that etc. The important thing is to use a word that refers to the action, but isn't specifically the action. Saying "but it does rotate very slowly" or "but it does turn very slowly" are not natural
    – Caius Jard
    Jun 13, 2017 at 12:45

1 Answer 1


The moon itself rotates, but it does so very slowly.

The moon itself rotates, but it performs this action very slowly.

She dances, but she does so only if she likes the music.

We can also use the pronoun it to refer back to that which is done:

He listens to talk radio, but he does it only in his car.

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