I am trying to understand the difference between following two statements.

  • I take breaks
  • I do take breaks

As you may have observed, the second statement uses an auxiliary verb do Similarly, what is the difference between

  • Monkeys eat banana
  • Monkeys do eat banana.

Thank you.


In your second sentence:

I do take breaks

the "do" is redundant. This statement on its own would not be idiomatic English. It would be acceptable only if the "do" is serving a specific function. This could be (as Maulik suggests) contrast:

I don't eat grasshoppers, but I do eat rattlesnake.

It could be a response to a question:

Yes, I do like gladiator movies. Why do you ask?

It could be to draw some other kind of relationship to a previous statement:

We could go to Ljubljana for the festival. After all, I do have plenty of vacation days left this year.

The common thread is that there needs to be some previous statement that the "do" statement is referring to. This is common enough that if you just say the statement you suggested:

I do take breaks.

an English speaker will assume that you are responding to someone saying:

Do you take breaks?


You don't take breaks.

It would sound very odd to use this construction if there was not such a predicate.

  • Thank you for the descriptive explanation. This helped me understand better. – Flair Jul 23 '14 at 19:30

The verb do in such context is used for emphasizing.

I take breaks and I do take breaks -the latter sentence emphasizes on you taking breaks.

A different example with contrast in it might make it clear.

"I don't have a horse barn, but I do like horses."

This means don't misunderstand me for not having a horse barn; I like horses nonetheless. Now in this sentence, without "do", it would mean that you are contradicting your own statement and are not specific.

  • Thank you. So "do" is emphasizing the clause in the above case. – Flair Jul 23 '14 at 19:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.