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What is the difference between I play and I do play?

For example:

If someone were to ask to me, do you play soccer?

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In modern English, auxiliary 'do' is used in five cases:

  1. Negative (obligatory for most verbs): "I don't like mushrooms".

  2. Interrogative (obligatory for most verbs): "Do you like mushrooms?"

  3. Emphatic: "Oh, you've done some cauliflower! I do like cauliflower!"

  4. Contrastive (a special case of emphatic). "I don't like mushrooms. But I do like cauliflower".

  5. Anaphoric for the main verb: "Do you like cauliflower?" "Yes, I do".

In older English, and some dialects, it may be used outside these cases, but not normally in modern standard dialects.

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If someone asks

Do you play soccer?

it would be unnatural though correct to reply

I play soccer.

Usually one would reply with one of the following.

Yes, I do.

No, I don't.

There is a situation in which one would use do followed by a verb, and that is for reasons of emphasis. For instance, if your girlfriend asks you

Do you care about me at all?

you would reply

I do care.

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  • +1 - And if somebody asks you "do you play footvolley?", you could answer "No, I don't. But I do play soccer". In this case, do is to emphasize that what you said about soccer is the opposite to what you said about footvolley (don't vs. do). – b.roth Jan 6 '11 at 12:00
  • I removed my comment and added it back to be able to make a small edit - that's why it now appears after your comment. – b.roth Jan 6 '11 at 12:02
  • But you could respond with "Yes, I play soccer", leaving out the do. – Kosmonaut Jan 6 '11 at 16:54

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