Deeper Dive: does

Word Story Text
What does one do with DOES ?

DOES is one of the many high frequency words that seem highly irregular.

Given the spelling d-o-e-s, it should be pronounced “doze”, as in goes and woes. Given the sound “duz”, the simplest spelling would be d-u-z or maybe even d-u-z-z , like BUZZ.

DOES violates both of these expectations.

Do beginning readers have to memorize these mappings between spelling and pronunciation? Is there any way to make DOES easier to learn?

There are several ways this might be done, taking advantage of several ways that DOES relates to other words.

Does also has morphological relatives, such as DOES N’T, UNDOES , OUTDOES and REDOES . These words provide a variety of ways to reinforce the spelling, sound and meaning of DOES .

DOES is also a member of a neighborhood consisting of rhyming words that are spelled differently: Buzz because cuz Fuzz and others.

DOES can be grouped with phonologically-overlapping words such as DIES, DAZE which all have the structure dVz.

DOES can be taught by contrasting it with its false friends: Goes, toes, foes. Oh, and also shoes.

Does is also a homograph with “does ” d-o-e-s (female deer plural). Same spelling, different pronunciations, different unrelated meanings. Teaching these two together may be effective.

In context these two words are easy to tell apart because
duz is a verb. And does is a plural noun.
Nouns and verbs occur in different positions in sentences.

Say a sentence starts: Obama does … in which the noun Obama is followed by the verb does .

Compare that to
The “doze” [are licking salt] in which the determiner THE is followed by a noun, “ doze” It has to be a noun because you can’t have a verb after the word THE. You can’t say “the duz”
Highlighting the contrast between the two D-O-E-S words may be helpful because the different pronunciations are associated with different meanings and different uses in sentences.

These examples are complicated by the fact that the DOES meaning of D-o-e-s is a homophone with DOZE, the word related to sleep.

Finally, DOES can be learned using familar phrases and sayings such as
Easy does it, Does the trick, does more harm than good. The idea is to use really familiar phrases where the word has to be DOES .
Familiar quotations or song lyrics can also help:
“Because, because, because, because, because, because of the wonderful things he does .”
DOES is not an easy word but it isn’t totally unrelated to other words. Grouping it with other words makes it easier to learn.

My mama says that stupid is as stupid does . Forrest Gump

“How does a bastard, orphan son of a whore and a Scotsman dropped in a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by Providence, impoverished in squalor grow up to be a hero and a scholar? Alexander Hamilton from the musical Hamilton

That does it

Easy does it

What does he know?

How does that grab you?

It does a heart good


Every little thing she does is magic.The Police


The third-person singular present of Do.

-- Webster's unabridged 1913

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