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.


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.

  • +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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