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Brother: Pass me the remote control, please.

Sister: Not before this documentary ends, dear brother.

Brother: Oh do pass me the remote, Bronwen. I insist.

So goes a typical squabble in a very formal household, or so I imagine. Nowadays we’re much less likely to use that do for emphasis than we once were, if we ever were, brothers up and down the land finding it more effective to use mild physical coercion, or at least its threat. Still, that do (or does, or did) can still prove useful to you, providing a pedestrian sentence with a bit of polite emphasis.

The underlying use of the do is, I suppose, ‘I insist’. It can mean ‘I insist you do this’, as in the example in the dialogue above, or ‘I insist that this is true’, as in ‘I really do enjoy teaching this class’. The latter use is often used when the listener or reader might believe the contrary, and here the word ‘really’ adds to the effect. So there you are, nice and simple: ‘do’ for emphasis. Have a look at the examples below and then do try the challenge.

  • Please do contribute whatever you can to our cause.
  • Children do have private lives and are entitled to them, but there must be limits.
  • Revision does help you pass your exams.

Challenge

Think of some example do sentences (of both uses mentioned above) for the following situations :

  • Convince more people to support a charity of your choice
  • Convince more people to visit ‘GCSE Writing Tips’
  • Correct some incorrect information you have found on the web (make this up)
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