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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    the love that dare not speak its name

    Hello everyone, I am glad to be here every time I can. The day is too short for me .
    Some days ago I was watching a documentary about Oscar Wilde and I heard the sentence that's the title of this thread. My question is: is "dare" a regular verb or is it an auxiliary, like "to have" and "to be"? It seems it is because of that "dare not", but I am not sure.
    Can someone help me understand better?
    Thank you.

  2. Phaedrus's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: the love that dare not speak its name

    Some days ago I was watching a documentary about Oscar Wilde and I heard the sentence that's the title of this thread. My question is: is "dare" a regular verb or is it an auxiliary, like "to have" and "to be"?
    Great question. The title of this thread is actually not a sentence. It's a noun phrase containing a relative clause. But we can extract this sentence from the relative clause:

    It dare not speak its name.

    It's clear, I'd say, that "dare" has auxiliary-verb status in that sentence. First, the sentence is in the present tense, and the subject is third-person singular, yet "dare" does not take its third-person-singular form ("dares," with an "s"), as it would if it were a main verb. Second, when "dare" is a main verb and is followed by a verb phrase, infinitival "to" is used (viz., "It dares not to speak its name"), but we don't see infinitival "to" here, and it wouldn't be grammatical if we did (*It dare not to speak its name). Third, "dare not" could here undergo contraction, which is something that auxiliary verbs can do: "It daren't speak its name."
    Last edited by Phaedrus; 28-Feb-2017 at 19:28.

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    #3

    Re: the love that dare not speak its name

    Note that Wilde used dare in a way that it's rarely used today except in the phrase you asked about. This phrase apparently originated in an 1896 poem. Poems of the era frequently used constructions and vocabulary that wouldn't have been found in prose.
    I am not a teacher.

  4. Piscean's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: the love that dare not speak its name

    It is, more specifically, a modal auxiliary.

    DARE and NEED are two verbs that can act be used as catenative verbs and (in some situations) as modals.

    He doesn't dare (to) ask her out. He daren't ask her out.
    Does he dare (to) risk this?
    Dare he risk this?
    She doesn't need to go to the office tomorrow.
    She needn't go to the office tomorrow.
    Does she need to go in? Need she go in?
    Last edited by teechar; 28-Feb-2017 at 19:16.

  5. Phaedrus's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: the love that dare not speak its name

    Note that Wilde used dare in a way that it's rarely used today except in the phrase you asked about.
    What is old-fashioned about the quotation from a grammatical standpoint has more to do with the way it employs negation than with the use of "dare" as an auxiliary verb. In today's English, we'd be more likely to use the modal "would" before the auxiliary verb, and to attach the negation to the modal:

    the love that wouldn't dare speak its name

    Compare: "He wouldn't dare do that."

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