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Normal vs Special verbs: Negative sentences

Normal vs Special verbs: Negative sentences
Activity Fill in the Gaps
Activity Fill in the Gaps
Normal verbs use DO to make negative sentences, but not special verbs. Practise the difference. (Always use contractions if you can and sounds normal)

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Make negative sentences with these verbs

It is very important to know which verbs are normal and which are special, because the sentence structure is different in each case.


They can do everything, they never need help. Special verbs are auxiliaries and modals, and there are only 13:

auxiliaries: to be, have, do
modals: can/could, will/would, shall/should, may/might, must, ought to

Normal negative forms (some verbs are not normally contracted):  [am not, aren't, isn't], [haven't, hasn't], [do, doesn't] // can't, couldn't, won't, wouldn't, shall not, shouldn't, may not, might not, mustn't, oughtn't to


All the other verbs are normal. They can only build an affirmative sentence. For all the other constructions they need to use DO

Special verbs follow the rule of the three NO's: No -S, No To, No Do


NO –S   
 I can / she can
I want / She wants
 I can walk / to can

I want to go / to want
 you can / you can’t / can you?
you want / you don't want / do you want?

❶- No S: Special verbs don't add an -S for the third person singular in the simple present tense. The forms is, has are irregular forms, but still, they are not bes (be + S) or haves (have + S)

❷- No To: Special verbs are never followed by an "infinitive with to" (exception: ought to), and they don't have an infinitive form (exception: to be). To do and To have are different from Do and Have. Compare:

- Do = special (auxiliary verb, no meaning):     Do you like it?
- To Do = normal verb:     I do yoga in the mornings / Do you do yoga?
- Have = special (auxiliary verb, no meaning):     Have you ever been to London?
- To Have = normal verb:     I have a car / do you have a car?
Note: Have got = have (special) + got (normal):     Have you got a car?

❸- No Do: Special verbs never use DO

I can't speak Russian (not: I don't can speak Russian)
Are you Polish? (not: Do you are Polish?)


Abbriviations used here:  s.v.= special verb  n.v.= normal verb  S= subject  V= verb  O= object, adverbial, complement


Let's see how these three rules work in practice, shaping the 4 most common constructions in the language


s.v. & n.v.   S+V+(O)

- I am Spanish
- He can speak English

- You live in London
- She likes Japanese music


s.v.   S+ V+not  +(O)
- I am not French
- She can’t speak Italian

n.v.   S+do+not +V+(O)
- You don’t live in Rome
- She doesn’t like Jazz


s.v.   V+S +(O) ?
- Are you Spanish?
- Can she speak English?

n.v.   do+S +V+(O) ?

- Do you live in London?
- Does she like Japanese music?


Are you Spanish?  Yes, I am / No, I'm not
Can she speak English? / Yes, he can / No, he can't
n.v. (use do)
Do you live in London?  Yes, I do / No, I don't
Does she like Japanese music?  Yes, she does / No, she doesn't

(simple rule: for Short Answers, the same verb that starts the question is the verb that will finish the answer)


Gapped text
(love) I ____________________ Jill
(live) We ____________________ in Moscow
(eat) She ______________________ fruit
(drink) Mark __________________________ wine
(read) We ____________________ books
(write) They ______________________ letters
(listen) You ________________________ to me when I'm talking
(walk) He ________________________ to school, he goes by bus.
(sleep) I ______________________ at night
(be) She __________ my sister
(have finished) I ________________________________ this book yet
(can) Sorry, I __________ go with you.
(could) I didn't pass the exam because I ________________ finish on time
(will) I __________ go to Mexico this summer
(would) I ________________ like to be there at this moment
(should) You __________________ talk to her like that
(may) I ______________ see you tomorrow
(might) I don't know, she __________________ be Susan.
(must) You ______________ do that here
(have got) I ______________________ many friends here
(have lived) She ________________________ in Barcelona
(have) I ____________________ a car
(be) I____________ your father
(be) You ____________ Phill Lewis
(like) She ________________________ your sweater
Total number of items: 25
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