Interested in Language
We use 'do' to talk abourt cleaning,cooking, shopping & washing etc.
1. Can you do the shoes before the children go to school?(=clean the shoes)
2. Aren't you going to do your hair? It looks untidy?(=comb/brush your hair)
Why do we use 'do' instead of another verb to talk abourt certain jobs?
When I hear a person says "When is he coming to do the wndows? I may think there are serveral possibilities:1. clean windows 2. fix the windows 3. replace the old windows by new windows 4. re-paint the windows.
Why don't we say 'clean the windows' instead of 'do the windows'?
Can anybody tell me the reason why?
PS 'Creeping into the language' is what words and usages do. Language is changing all the time. Whenever anyone uses a word or form of words it means what it means in that context. If enough people use it in a similar context, that meaning or usage 'creeps into the language.'.
For what it's worth, I disagree with Gil's last point. 'Let's do lunch' has only reached the UK in the last 10/20 years, We've been using 'do' in the wider sense in Br Eng (as my disagreement with Gil's comments on 'acceptability' shows) for at least 10 times that, if not more. Dickens called a school Dotheboys Hall (in that case, interpretation of the exact meaning of 'do' was assisted by the naming of the teacher, 'Wackford Squeers'. (For a more recent example, I knew a farmer on the Scilly Isles who used to say 'In the winter we do the flowers [grow them for sale to the mainland] and in the summer we do the tourists.'
Last edited by BobK; 04-Dec-2011 at 18:36. Reason: PS Added
We do say "do your hair" but it doesn't mean just to brush/comb it to make it look tidy. It's used more when (usually) a girl is getting ready to go out for the evening and is going to put her hair into a particular style specially for the evening. She will probably also put on nicer clothes than usual and impractical high heels!
I think that the real point is that when people use 'do' like this,both they and the listener know what action the 'do refers to. Within the last month, the person in the flat next door to mine said almost exactly the same words to me as my mother had a week before on one of my visits:
Neighbour: Don't forget you said you'd do my cat next week.
Mother: Don't forget you said you'd do [cat's name] tomorrow.
My neighbour was going away for a couple of days, and was reminding me that I had agreed to go into her flat every morning to let her cat out of the window, and clean out its litter tray. I was also going to go into the flat in the evening, replenish the cat's food supply, and then let the cat back into the flat. Because we had spoken about it before, we knew exactly what 'do' her cat meant.
My mother was reminding me that I had agreed to take the cat to the vet for a small operation in the morning, and collect it after lunch. Because we had spoken about it before, we knew exactly what 'do' her cat meant.
Bob's farmer and his listeners knew exactly what 'do the flowers/tourists' meant, just as we know whether 'doing my hair' means combing it, washing it, styling it, dyeing it or (if this had been talked about it before), cutting it all off.
[QUOTE=~Mav~;829605]I apologise in advance for this question, but doesn't this sound as if they had sexual intercourse with those tourists? (Even when it's about doing the laundry, I can't help but think to myself, "Oh, what are you up to?". ) It's either because I'm not a native English speaker, or because I have a dirty mind, or both. Joking aside, as much as I know, "do" CAN mean having sexual intercourse with someone, can't it? So, isn't that sentence with tourists a little bit ambiguous?
Please note that we didn't say something like "do with'.
*** NOT A TEACHER ***
* From the movie, "Pearl Harbor":
"You telling me if you were dead, and you saw your best buddy doin' your girl, you wouldn't come back and beat the living crap outta him?" ( )
Last edited by ~Mav~; 05-Dec-2011 at 06:29.
You're absolutely right about the potential connotation but context is everything.
What's Sarah's job in the wedding?
Oh, she's doing the flowers.
John and Jane are over there. How do they know each other?
Oh, he's doing her!
I think we can safely say that no-one would assume that Sarah is having sex with the flowers in dialogue 1. In dialogue 2, it's pretty clear. Note, that it's a pretty unpleasant way of referring to sex and I wouldn't encourage you to use it, but once you recognise the usage you'll know what it means when you hear it.