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Old 02-07-2013, 09:15 AM   #1
tonten
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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?
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:37 AM   #2
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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.

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Last edited by blacbird; 02-07-2013 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:23 AM   #3
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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.
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Old 02-07-2013, 01:24 PM   #4
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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.
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:45 PM   #5
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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
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Old 02-10-2013, 08:55 PM   #6
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Thank you for all the replies. I guess in this case, I got my rules mixed up.
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