Suppose Alice asks Tom “Do you watch TV?”

Tom answers,

“Yes, I watch TV”

But Tom can also answer as follows

“Yes, I do watch TV.”

What is the difference between the two answers and the inclusion of the word "do", in the answer given by Tom.

I would also like to know which one is the more precise answer.

  • There are several usages of the auxiliary verb do; most don't have any meaning at all, but are only part of the machinery of grammar. For instance, the do that appears in the first question is inserted by a rule of Do-Support, which provides an auxiliary verb when required by a rule like subject-auxiliary inversion. If you need an auxiliary to invert and you don't have any, Do-Support hands out a meaningless dummy auxiiiary for the purpose. Then there's the emphatic do, always stressed, like in the second answer. – John Lawler May 16 '15 at 17:48
  • Finally, there's the Act do, which substitutes for a semantically active verb like a pronoun substitutes for a noun: They told me to eat it, and I did. – John Lawler May 16 '15 at 17:51
  • @Hugh Because this question has been asked before, quite a number of times too. The answers here are basically repeating the answers on the older question. – Mari-Lou A Nov 30 '15 at 6:14
  • @Mari-LouA OK thanks for the reply – Hugh Nov 30 '15 at 6:16

Here is how I read it: Yes, (as surprising or unlikely as it sounds) I do watch TV.

In this interpretation, it is also the same as: Yes, I (actually) do watch TV.

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  • Quite. One gets the impression of an unsaid adverb, usually commenting (as we do constantly) on the attitudes and expectations of the speaker (and on their assumed or perceived attitudes and expectations of the addressee). But this isn't meaning (semantics), but usage (pragmatics). – John Lawler Jun 15 '15 at 17:47

Both examples are equally precise.

"Yes, I watch TV." "Yes, I do watch TV."

In answering, the "do" helper/auxiliary verb simply adds emphasis, and is not required.

It is, however, required in Modern English for asking questions. Unless you want to say something like "Watchest thou TV?" [I'm being facetious.]

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