The verb „to do”

The verb “to do” is irregular. That means its past tense and past participle are not formed by adding “ed” at the end. They have a specific form: did for past simple and done for past participle.

E.g. She did her best to persuade him.

E.g. He did his best to win the match but he lost nevertheless.

E.g. She has never done any volunteer work.


To do is an auxiliary verb, which means it is used to form the tenses of other verbs.

Do as an auxiliary in questions in Simple Present

Do you like cooking? Does the doctor come to see the patient every morning?

Do as an auxiliary in negations in Simple Present

They don’t live in a village. She doesn’t watch TV at all.

Do as an auxiliary in questions and negations in the Simple Past

Did you miss me? I didn’t know what to say when I met him.

Do in negative imperative

Don’t walk on grass!


But do is also used as a general verb. Consider the following example:

What do you do? What is your job?)

I am a doctor. or I am a carpenter.


Do is used when talking about tasks like in:

  • do the housework. (to clean the house). E.g. Our house is a complete mess. I think we should start doing the housework now.
  • do the dishes (to wash the dishes) E.g. I always do the dishes after lunch.
  • do the homework (Pay attention we say to do the homework and not to make the homework!) E.g. It’s getting late. I think you should start doing your homework.
  • do exercise E.g. If you do exercises three times a week you will lose weight.


Do is also used for non-specific activities:

Do something E.g. I never thought she was capable of doing something so cruel.

Do nothing E.g. He is very lazy. He lies the entire day on the couch and does nothing.

Do anything E.g. I promise I won’t do anything to hurt you!

Do everything E.g. He had to attend a meeting so I had to do everything alone.


Other expressions with do:

  • do business E.g. You should read this book if you want to find out how to do business with a big company.
  • do good job (to do something very well) E.g. Everybody says I have done a good job of raising my children.
  • do one’s best (to try as hard as you can in order to achieve something) E.g. I did my best to think of proper examples with the verb do.
  • do your duty (a legal or a moral obligation) E.g.: I don’t expect a reward for saving her. I simply did my duty.


Some phrasal verbs with do

Do up 

  • (to fasten) E.g. You have to do up the buttons of your shirt before you go out.
  • (to repair, paint, and improve an old building, car, etc.) E.g. This is a lovely house but it needs doing up a bit.
  • (to wrap something in paper or cloth in an attractive way- to decorate)

E.g. He did up the parcel with colored paper and ribbon and sent it to his mother.

  • (to dress someone in special clothes or put make-up on them) E.g. She spent two hours doing herself up for the meeting.


Do without

  • (to succeed in living or working without someone or something)

E.g. I had to do without an internet connection in that resort.


Idioms with do

Could do without

  • ( to prefer not to experience or deal with) E.g. I could do without all this noise.

Do away with

  • (to get rid of something) E.g. She did away with the old cooker and bought a new one. A lot of states have done away with the death penalty for a long time
  • (to murder someone) E.g. There is a rumour that John has done away with his friend.


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