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If I say...

I don't dare call her a muttonhead Vs.
I daren't call her a muttonhead.

Does putting 'don't' emphasize more on my daring (of calling her that) as compared to a simple version 'daren't?'

  • I needed to check with a dictionary to be sure that daren't is really a word. – Damkerng T. Apr 21 '14 at 8:08
  • @DamkerngT. It is. It's much more common in BrE than AmE, which is why you might not be familiar with it. – snailplane Apr 21 '14 at 8:08
  • @DamkerngT. This is from my actual conversation with someone ;) – Maulik V Apr 21 '14 at 9:00
  • @MaulikV - It depends on your definition of "word", but lots of words used in actual conversations aren't actual words – and I amn't kidding about that. (For the record, though, daren't seems to be recognized). – J.R. Apr 21 '14 at 9:22
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    Amn't is an actual word. There's nothing non-actual about it. Non-standard, sure. On the other hand, I don't think anyone would dare call daren't non-standard--though I suppose there's someone out there willing to surprise me ;-) – snailplane Apr 21 '14 at 11:09
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They mean the same thing. When "dare" means = 'to behave brave enough to do something", then "dare" usually forms negatives and questions like an ordinary verb and is followed by an infinitive with "to".

It is most common in the negative. e.g.

"I didn't dare to ask."
"She wouldn't dare to break her promise."

In spoken English, the forms of the ordinary verb are often used with an infinitive without "to", like in your first sentence.

However, it can also be used like a modal verb,(your second sentence) especially in present tense negative forms in BrE, and is followed by an infinitive without "to".

For example:

"I daren't tell him the truth."

So, as you see, "don't" doesn't emphasize anything here.

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