In today’s article, we will look at how to emphasize the validity of a verb, an action, or an event. In schools, this topic is usually only mentioned in passing and students are then very confused when they come across, for example, the sentence “I did my homework” or “He does love her”.

They know that the auxiliary verb do/’du/ (more precisely the triple do/does/did) is only used in questions and negative sentences.

 

Ordinary sentences without stress

First, let’s look at how it is in classic announcement sentences, where no stress is placed.

In the present and past simple tenses, we do NOT use an auxiliary verb:

  • My mom likes classical music. 
  • I went to school yesterday. 
  • He loves her. 

 

In other tenses, use the auxiliary verb be, have, or will (in the appropriate form):

  • I am working right now. 
  • She has been to New York. 
  • We will try. 
  • He was waiting for me. 

In these sentences, the auxiliary verb is always pronounced weakly, without an accent. Because it is weakened, it can also often be reduced with a contracted form (with an apostrophe) – I’m, I’ve, I’d, I’ll, etc.

 

Sentences with stress

Sometimes, especially in spoken English, it is necessary to emphasize that the action the verb is describing REALLY takes place/has taken place/is taking place; it really is.

If these are tenses in which we use auxiliary verbs, they will not differ from unstressed ones by anything other than adding emphasis specifically to the auxiliary verb:

  • I am working right now.
  • She has been to New York.
  • We will try.
  • He was waiting for me.

Of course, this is only possible in spoken language. If the author of a book, for example, wants to achieve this, he usually emphasizes the word in italics:

  • I am working here.
  • She has been to New York.
  • We will try.
  • He was waiting for me.

There is no auxiliary verb in the present or past simple tense on which to place the stress, so we have to fill it in ourselves. It will be the verb we use in questions and interjections in these tenses, i.e. do/does/did. We will put the stress on them when we say them.

  • I do like music. 
  • I did go to school yesterday. 
  • He does love her. 
  • I did call him, but he didn’t answer. 
  • She does know that. 
  • They did sell nice things there. 
  • We do want to go there with you. Why do you think we want to stay home? 

 

Remember that the auxiliary verb do is always followed by the base form of the verb:

  • I did go to school yesterday. x I did went to school yesterday.
  • He does love her. x He does love her.

 

Usage

It is appropriate to state exactly what is hidden under the verb stress and in what situations it occurs. Let’s illustrate this with examples.

 

Example 1

Imagine that someone says to you: