‘Do’ and ‘does’ can be reduced to make them easier to say and make more rhythmic contrast in your speech. But you don’t want to reduce them in every case — learn when to and when not to in this video, as well as how to pronounce these words when they are reduced.
YouTube blocked? Click here to see the video.
In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to study using DO and DOES as helping verbs, and their pronunciation.
Do you know what a helping verb is? It’s a verb that helps the main verb of the sentence – so it’s not the main verb. It’s an auxiliary verb. Let’s look at two examples:
I do it all the time.
What do you think?
In one sentence, ‘do’ is the main verb; it’s the only verb. In the other sentence, it’s the helping verb, the auxiliary verb. Which is which? ‘Think’ is a verb, it’s the main verb of that sentence. So ‘do’ is the helping verb in the second sentence, and the main verb in the first sentence.
What do you notice about the pronunciation?
In the first sentence, I pronounce it fully, do, with the OO as in BOO vowel. In the second sentence, it’s not as clear. What do you think? I reduce the vowel to the schwa, duh, duh. I say it as fast as I can. You might notice I’m dropping the T in ‘what’ and reducing the vowel in ‘you’ to the schwa as well: what do you, what do you. What do you think? That makes the words in that phrase flow together, just like we want in American English.
Content words are words we want to stress, words we want to fully pronounce. Verbs are content words, but helping verbs are not. These are function words, which are unstressed and sometimes reduced. Duh, duh.
This same idea works with the word ‘does’. Fully pronounced, ‘does’, with the UH as in BUTTER vowel. But when it’s a helping verb, it’s pronounced ‘diz’, does, does. Different, right? It’s less clear, very, very quick, and we reduce the vowel to the schwa. The jaw doesn’t really need to drop – ‘does’.
She does accounting for the firm.
What does he need?
She does accounting, does, does. It’s the only verb, fully pronounced. She does, she does.
What does he need? does, does, does. Unstressed, very fast. Need’ is the main verb here. Does, does. What does he, what does he. Notice I’m also dropping the H in ‘he’, as we often do. What does he need?
Let’s listen to a few more sentences with ‘does’ and ‘do’:
Why does it do that?
Which one sounds fully pronounced, ‘does’ or ‘do’? Why does it do that? Why does, does, does. That’s not fully pronounced. Do that, do that. ‘Do’ is fully pronounced. Do is the main verb, and ‘does’ is the helping verb, does.
How do you feel?
Is ‘do’ fully pronounced? How do you feel? No. It’s reduced. ‘Feel’ is the main verb, and ‘do’ is the helping verb.
Did you notice that every time ‘do’ and ‘does’ were helping verbs, they were making questions? And every time they were main verbs, they were making statements. Actually, they can be in a statement as an auxiliary verb too, but in those cases they are being added for emphasis, and so they will be stressed.
I do like them. ‘Like’ is the main verb, but we add ‘do’ to add emphasis.
>> You don’t like them, do you?
>> I do! I do like them.
It does work. ‘Work’ is the main verb, but we add ‘does’ for emphasis.
>> This thing doesn’t work.
>> It does work, you’re doing it wrong.
So, if ‘do’ or ‘does’ are in a question, try to reduce them. Link them to the words around them, and make them really fast.
I hope this video has helped you understand when and how you can use ‘do’ and ‘does’ as helping verbs.
If there’s a word or phrase you’d like help pronouncing, please put it in the comments below. Don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list by clicking here or in the description below to keep up with all of my latest videos – it’s free.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.