The passage comes from Medieval Europe by Chris Wickham.

Peasants do not appear on every page of this book, by any means; but almost everything which does was paid for by the surplus which they handed over, more or less unwillingly, in rent, and it is a mistake to forget it.

I'd like to ask the voice of 'does' in this sentence. My sense of the English grammar makes me wonder if 'does' should not be 'is done'. Of course, since its source is from the published book, it is not likely that this word is actually not proper.

But I have two question on the usage of 'does'.

Frist, doesn't 'is done' also make sense in the context?

Last, what logic of the grammar makes 'does' possible and, if you can, can you show another example of this usage?

  • 4
    No, it's an ellipsis: "but almost everything which does [appear in the book] was paid..."
    – Laurel
    Apr 3, 2017 at 2:33
  • 1
    It hearkens back to the first do, of do not appear in this book. Apr 3, 2017 at 2:41
  • Thanks a lot Laural & John Lawler, I have to look more carefully in the first place.
    – morti
    Apr 3, 2017 at 2:44

1 Answer 1


Strip away anything and everything that does not pertain to the basics in this sentence, and you'll see why the word "does" applies (I'm not happy about "which," by the way, I would have used "that" instead, but that's merely a side matter).

Peasants do not appear on every page; but ... almost [everything [that] [does appear on every page of this book) was [in fact] paid for by [those peasants].

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