Emphasis in English
Is it possible to apply emphasis in English? Are there any words we can insert into our sentences to emphasise what we’re saying or asking? Yes. There is. To emphasise in English, we use the auxiliary verb ‘do‘ to put emphasis on both negative and positive statements and questions. We can also refrain from using the contracted forms of other auxiliary verbs when it’s not possible to use ‘do’ in order to add emphasis. Explanations below.
(1) Do; used for emphasis with answers, statements and negative answers in the past and present tenses. Non contracted negative form implies emphasis.
- Do you like my new shirt? Yes, I do like it a lot.
- Hey, James have you seen the new movie that just came out? Oh, yeah, I did see it actually.
- I do fancy a quick break.
- I did not enjoy that performance whatsoever (non-contracted form is emphatic here).
(2) All non-contracted forms = emphasis, usually.
- I can not see you this evening, I am sorry, I am very busy.
- Shall we go out tonight? No, we shall not, I am really tired tonight.
- My sister may not see anyone until she’s done all her homework.
- Are we all set to leave in ten minutes? Yes, we are set.
(3) Ordinary verbs, examples above with no emphasis. ‘Do’ omitted or contracted to avoid emphasis.
- Do you like my new shirt? Yes, I like it a lot.
- Hey, James have you seen the new movie that just came out? Oh, yeah, I saw it actually.
- I fancy a quick break.
- I didn’t enjoy that performance whatsoever.
(4) All other auxiliary verbs, examples with no emphasis. Contracted forms to avoid emphasis.
- I can’t see you this evening, I’m sorry, I’m very busy.
- Shan’t we go out tonight? No, we shan’t, I’m really tired tonight.
- My child won’t see anyone until she’s done all her homework.
- Are we all set to leave in ten minutes? Yes, We’re set.