Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Do and Does

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW tonten's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Vancouver, Canada
    Posts
    114

    Do and Does

    I'm having a problem with these two words in this type of sentence:

    Little does his enemies know, . . .

    Word check tells me to change it to

    "do his enemies" or "does his enemy"

    I want to keep enemies plural. I think "Little do his enemies know" sounds better

    but doesn't

    does = did

    and

    do = done


    One wouldn't say "Little does they know" or do they?

  2. #2
    That hairy-handed gent
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Who ran amok in Kent
    Posts
    31,300
    Your word-processor is correct, with either suggestion. "Do", in this construction, is a plural subject present-tense conjugation, "does" is singular. Standard is:

    I do
    He, she, it does
    We, they do.

    Now, if you're narrating in past tense, your choice should be "Little did his enemies know." It would be the same if the enemy was singular: "Little did his enemy know."

    "To do" is one of the most common verb forms in English, and any other language, and these most common verb forms in languages which involve conjugation are often irregular.

    caw
    Last edited by blacbird; 02-07-2013 at 10:55 AM.
    "Badger! Badger! The weasels have stolen my motor-car!"

    "Frankly, Toad, I don't give a damn."

    -- Gone with the Wind in the Willows

  3. #3
    It's green they say FennelGiraffe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    San Antonio
    Posts
    1,704
    That sentence construction is turned around backward. Nothing wrong with that ; it just makes the grammar harder to untangle. Turn it back the usual way, and it's easier to see:
    His enemies do know little.
    In a science fiction novel, if I describe what's on a desk, the reader will use this to figure out the level of technology in the society.

    In a mystery novel, if I describe what's on a desk, the reader will understand that one of those objects is a clue.

    In a literary novel, if I describe what's on a desk, the reader will understand it to be a metaphor for the protagonist's mental state.
    - James D. Macdonald, discussing Reading Protocols, 6 Apr 2009

  4. #4
    New motto: more purr, less hiss Nekko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Do you know where the middle of nowhere is? Four miles past that
    Posts
    2,328
    Little do his enemies know...is correct.

    His enemies eat puppies - his enemy eats puppies (well, they are his enemies for a reason.)
    His enemies color the flowers red - his enemy colors the flowers red

    You just aren't aware of this little peculiarity of verb agreement most of the time, where it seems like the plural noun takes a singular verb because of the 's'.
    I'm sure Susan L, or Mac could explain it better.
    You can't... start to delete a word so you can change it to a different word but then keep the first letter of the old word...
    it will eventually eat the new word's soul and turn it into an evil, undead word-zombie...

    --jjdebenedictis


    Me on FB

  5. #5
    Benefactor Member Roxxsmom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Lost in space. And meaning.
    Posts
    8,912
    Little do his enemies know.

    Little does his enemy know.

    For once, MS grammar checker is correct. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, as they say
    Please excuse me, I was raised by wolves.

    My twitter - My FB - My blog

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW tonten's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Vancouver, Canada
    Posts
    114
    Thank you for all the replies. I guess in this case, I got my rules mixed up.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Custom Search