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|02-07-2013, 09:15 AM||#1|
practical experience, FTW
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Vancouver, Canada
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
does = did
do = done
One wouldn't say "Little does they know" or do they?
|02-07-2013, 09:37 AM||#2|
That hairy-handed gent
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Who ran amok in Kent
Your word-processor is correct, with either suggestion. "Do", in this construction, is a plural subject present-tense conjugation, "does" is singular. Standard is:
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.
Without a reader, the story doesn't exist -- James D. MacDonald
Last edited by blacbird; 02-07-2013 at 09:55 AM.
|02-07-2013, 11:23 AM||#3|
It's green they say
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: San Antonio
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
|02-07-2013, 01:24 PM||#4|
New motto: more purr, less hiss
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Northern CA in the woods with the bears
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.
|02-07-2013, 10:45 PM||#5|
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Lost in space. And meaning.
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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