I found this line in Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

I'll do't. Dost thou come here to whine?

What does "do't" mean? Google returneth only "don't". Is "do't" an alternative spelling of "don't"? Is "I'll don't" a common phrase in English?


See this link. "I'll do't" means "I will do it". It's not an alternative spelling of don't. Early English uses a lot more contractions in writing, and plays, especially Shakespeare's plays, use a lot because they're written in verse and need to shorten words and phrases to maintain the meter.

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  • 3
    Yes, though I think it's less a matter of meter than the fact of representing spoken language. Also, Early Modern English tended to contract pronouns, or omit them altogether (th'art, is't, y'are, and the contraction of he to 'a and his to 's), where today we prefer to contract or omit auxiliary verbs. That very different colloquial rhythm is difficult for actors coming to Shakespeare for the first time. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 16 '13 at 10:27
  • @StoneyB: Yes, again, y'are prob'ly right about't, & y'are certain to be better informed about't than I am. – user264 Mar 16 '13 at 10:39
  • I'm occasionally tempted to throw 'a, 's,'n into the ring as the long-sought genderless 3d person singular pronoun. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 16 '13 at 10:43

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