Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Today's English lesson

From the American Heritage Book of English Usage:

I Dare You!

Depending on its sense, the verb dare sometimes behaves like an auxiliary verb (such as can or may) and sometimes like a main verb (such as want or try).

When used as an auxiliary verb, dare does not change to agree with its subject:
He dare not do that again.
It also does not combine with do in questions, negations, or certain other constructions:
Dare we tell her the truth?
I dare not mention their names.
Finally, it does not take to before the verb that follows it:
If you dare breathe a word about it, I’ll never speak to you again.
When used as a main verb, dare does agree with its subject:
If he dares to show up at her house I’ll be surprised.
and it does combine with to
Did anyone dare to admit it?
It may optionally take to before the verb following it:
No one dares (or dares to) speak freely about the political situation.
The auxiliary forms differ subtly in meaning from the main verb forms in that they emphasize the attitude or involvement of the speaker while the main verb forms present a more objective situation. Thus
How dare she take the exam without ever once coming to class?
expresses indignation at the student’s action, whereas
How did she dare to take the exam without ever once coming to class?
is a genuine request for information.

When dare is used as a transitive verb meaning “challenge,” only main verb forms are possible and to is required:
Anyone who dares (not dare) him to attempt (not just attempt) it will be sorry.

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