First off, I would like to clarify that I'm not asking about the verb "do", but rather, the specific word "did", and a more figurative use of the word. In English, the word "did" is sometimes used to emphasize a verb/action, such as in:

"He did write that book."

or, in a more general example:

"She did do that."

Obviously, in both sentences, the presence of the word "did" is grammatically speaking, unnecessary, but it does emphasize that it was that specific subject which did that specific thing. Is there any Spanish equivalent, or anything similar, that offers some way to emphasize it in a similar way?

  • Leaving grammar aside (when speaking we don't think about it), and to make things worst for you, in Spanish we emphasize not with words but with intonation, in the same way that the same phrase (same words in the same order) can be a statement or a question depending of the intonation given. Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 21:57

3 Answers 3


The auxiliaries DO, DOES and DID, as well as others in stressed form, are usually used after the interlocutor's negation:

A. He did not write any book. B. He DID write a book.

A. She did not do that. B. She DID do that.

An effective way of showing emphasis in Spanish consists of introducing the sentence with "sí que", with or without exclamation marks:

A. (Él) No escribió ningún libro. B. Sí que escribió un libro.

A. (Ella) no hizo eso. B. Sí que lo hizo.

B sentences can also start with "pero" (but) to express contrast and reinforce contradiction:

  • Pero sí que escribió un libro.
  • Pero sí que lo hizo.
  • Good examples, but for me they don't work perfectly for the first person if such person is making an assertion instead of negating anything. "A. He escrito un libro. B. ¿Tú? A. Sí, yo, yo he escrito un libro" Your option sounds a bit strange in this case. I find my way more natural than "Sí que lo he escrito". My example reflects what I'm proposing as answer.
    – RubioRic
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 11:50
  • @RubioRic No creo que baste con mencionar el pronombre para dar énfasis. Aún así, considero que hay mejores formas de dar énfasis
    – tac
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 12:14
  • I know this is not what the OP asked but how does your solution work when the clause is negative? For example "I shot the sheriff but I did not shoot no deputy" as the singer claims. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Shot_the_Sheriff
    – mdewey
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 13:37
  • 1
    @mdewey I did not shoot the deputy. is just a regular negative verb in the past tense. It is not the does/do/did intensifier.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 15:03
  • 1
    Of all the answers, this is the only one that works. Pero creo que tambien se puede decir: Que sí lo hizo.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 15:07

We use personal pronouns for such emphasis. Using your sentences as examples

[EN] He wrote a book
[ES] Escribió un libro

With emphasis

[EN] He did write a book
[ES] Él escribió un libro [meaning "He was able to write a book! It's amazing!"]

Here you can find more info about the use of pronouns [in Spanish]

En muchas de las llamadas lenguas "pro drop" (del inglés pronoun dropping), estos pronombres no son obligatorios y aparecen solo como formas enfáticas o en respuestas a preguntas sobre identificación

that translated to English would be

In a lot of "pronoun dropping" languages [like Spanish], these kind of pronouns are not mandatory and they appear only as emphatic forms or as an answer to identification questions

Here you can find almost the same statement directly in English

If you need to emphasize who the subject is, or the subject is unclear, then you should use a pronoun

  • Does using the pronoun not emphasise the person rather than the action? For your example that may amount to the same thing of course.
    – mdewey
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 13:02
  • You"re right. I missed the part of emphasizing the verb. I was thinking just in emphasizing.
    – RubioRic
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 13:18

Yo directamente usaría (se lo) re o (se lo) re-contra como equivalentes. Aquí la partícula re no indica que algo vuelve a empezar o hacerse —típica acepción que aparece en los diccionarios—, sino que sólo da énfasis. Sin embargo, debemos ser cuidadosos con las construcciones que hagamos para que no sean interpretadas con un sentido diferente al que queremos expresar.

En tu primer ejemplo:

He did write that book.
Lo re-escribió al libro. [posible confusión con lo reescribió (volvió a escribir)]
Se lo re-escribió al libro. [énfasis correcto]
Lo re-contra-escribió al libro. [énfasis correcto]

Notar que el se sólo da énfasis y evita una mala interpretación del sentido de la frase; en este caso dicha partícula no cumple las típicas funciones gramaticales que aparecen en los libros.

El segundo ejemplo quedaría:

She did do that.
Lo re-hizo. [posible confusión con lo rehizo (volvió a hacer)]
Se lo re-hizo. [posible confusión con el se reflexivo]
Lo re-contra-hizo. [énfasis correcto]

Con los verbos que no admiten el prefijo re- con el sentido de ‘volver a hacerse la acción’ es mucho más fácil resolver la ambigüedad:

I do understand that.
Lo re-entiendo. [énfasis correcto]
Lo re-contra-entiendo. [énfasis correcto]

Finalmente, si la situación es demasiado formal deberías optar por la respuesta de Gustavson. De todas formas, creo que el énfasis es mucho más frecuente en contextos informales. Y por favor, no escribas estas cosas en un documento formal; el uso es principalmente en el lenguaje oral o en los chats.

  • 1
    El do/did enfatico puede ocurrir en situaciones muy formales. He never finished high school but he did manage to attend four years of college.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 6, 2023 at 15:09
  • Además de ser informales, los prefijos "re" y "recontra" solo pueden usarse con verbos que admitan intensificación (gradable verbs). Se puede entender algo en parte, bastante, totalmente, pero la acción de escribir no admite grados: o se escribe o no se escribe.
    – Gustavson
    Commented Oct 8, 2023 at 22:49

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