I read a passage and there is one sentence I don't know the usage of it. The sentence is

And did this young woman have a long memory.

I know ‘did’ is for emphatic use, but why it can be put before “this young woman”?

Many thanks.

  • 1
    The Emphatic 'Do' in English Grammar : thoughtco.com/what-is-the-emphatic-do-1690590
    – user 66974
    Jun 1, 2020 at 7:20
  • Thank you very very much. But I didn't find the reason why did can be put before the subject. For example, this young woman did have a long memory. This is emphasis. But how did this young woman have a long memory.is also for emphasis? what's the usage?
    – Carrie Niu
    Jun 1, 2020 at 7:28
  • 1
    Can you please post the whole paragraph?
    – user 66974
    Jun 1, 2020 at 7:39
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA Rhetoric does often look like a question "My granny jumped over the fence! Well, was I surprised!" "Was I surprised" looks like a question - but isn't. See DW256's answer below.
    – Greybeard
    Jun 1, 2020 at 9:02
  • 2
    "And boy/wow/oh my gosh (etc.) did this woman have a long memory!" with a much needed exclamation mark would make it clearer if this was an emphatic statement. @Greybeard the OP provides no context. How can you possibly tell, unless you Googled. Did you? Also note that you felt compounded to add the interjection "Well" in your example.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 1, 2020 at 9:03

2 Answers 2


The basic sentence here would be: - This woman had a long memory.

With the emphatic 'do', it would be: - This woman did have a long memory.

The sentence you give here is actually using the verb 'do' as an auxiliary in the question structure, as happens in the present simple and past simple:

  • Do you own a car [right now]? [present simple]
  • Did you own a car [at some point in the past but no longer]? [past simple]

So here the 'do' does not mark emphasis, but a question structure. The overall effect of emphasis is achieved because the question is being asked rhetorically - no answer is expected. (See for instance the following posts about rhetorical questions:

  • How to identify a rhetorical question 1
  • What makes a question rhetorical 2

This is an exclamation.

Closed interrogatives (yes or no questions) such as:

Isn't it cold!

Is it cold!

can be used as rhetorical questions indirectly conveying exclamatory statements: the implicit meaning is close to that of the positive exclamative:

How cold it is!

Grammatically, these are interrogatives - questions, but we understand them as exclamatives because of the context, or the way they are said by the speaker (CaGEL p922-933).

  • 1
    The OP's quote does not have an exclamation mark. Can you justify the reason for this? Do you think it should have? Why/why not?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 1, 2020 at 9:59
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA : the justification is that people don't always emphasize things emphatically enough to warrant an exclamation mark; it's easy to imagine someone saying, e.g., "Isn't that odd." neither as a question, nor with a great deal of emphasis; the period conveys mild surprise, or realization that something is off without being willing to admit that it's unexpected, or irony, or many things from the rich and varied ways that people really do speak and really to express themselves
    – landru27
    Jun 1, 2020 at 17:12

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