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Using Auxiliary Verbs as Operators

Verbs are traditionally defined as words that “described an action or a state.” Auxiliary verbs are a subclass of verbs that add functional or grammatical meaning to the main verb. Auxiliary verbs differ from prototypical verbs in that auxiliary verbs perform a limited set of grammatical functions.

In grammar, an operator is a word that facilitates the expression of a negation, interrogation, and emphasis in the English language. The auxiliary verb that can function as the operator is the verb do, which is referred to as the do-operator or the dummy-do. For example, the following italicized auxiliary verbs function as operators:

  • Do not trample the roses!
  • Do not violate the rights of the wallabies to live freely in nature.
  • Do you have the time to listen to me whine?
  • Did the purple kitten steal a yellow carrot from the blue rabbit?
  • I do believe in spooks.
  • My daughter does love rubber duckies.

References

Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kilby, David. 1984. Descriptive syntax and the English verb. Dover, New Hampshire: Croom Helm.
Leech, Geoffrey N. 2004. Meaning and the English verb. Harlow, English: Pearson Longman.

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