Welcome to Daily Tips on Learning English. Today’s tip is on when to stress auxiliary verbs.
Although auxiliary verbs are not usually stressed, when we want to strongly emphasize a verb, we stress the auxiliary verb. And if there’s no auxiliary verb, we add one. These sentences are called emphatic sentences. For example, compare the sentences “He’s done his home work” and “He has done his home work.” Usually we would say, “He’s done his homework.” And the auxiliary verb “has” would not be stressed. But if we want to emphasize the meaning of “has done”, we stress the auxiliary verb “He has done his homework.” This is an emphatic sentence. Sentences which don’t usually contain an auxiliary verb has an auxiliary verb in emphatic sentences, and it is always stressed. Emphatic sentences are usually used after someone has expressed the opposite meaning. For example, “-You didn’t finish your homework.” “-I did finish my homework.” “-Maybe she doesn’t know how to drive.” “-On the contrary, he does know how to drive.” “-You don’t speak Chinese, do you?” “I do speak Chinese. I just wanted to give you some practice speaking English.”
Did you notice how I said “I did finish” instead of “I finished”, and “she does know” instead of “she knows”, “I do speak” instead of “I speak”. The auxiliary verbs “did”, “does” and “do” were added to make the sentence more emphatic
Be careful though not to use emphatic sentences unless you have a reason. Don’t think that you can not learn the past tense of every verb and just say “I did eat”, “I did go” instead of “I ate” and “I went”. If you do this, your listeners will be confused. Your listeners will be thinking, “Why is that so important?” “Why is he stressing that so much?” This is not just another way of saying “I ate” and “I went”. You can only say “I did eat” and “I did go” when there’s a reason for stressing this.
So remember that although auxiliary verbs are not usually stressed, in emphatic sentences they are. This has been today’s daily tip on learning English. Tune in tomorrow for another tip.