Interesting things about 'dare' as an ordinary verb and modal aux. and 'daresay/ 'dare say'

Whilst reading a bit in my grammar book PEU (Michael Swan, 2nd edition) I came across some very interesting things about ‘dare’.

When ‘dare’ is used as an ordinary verb, you can have the following expressions or phrases:

  • ‘Don’t you dare!’ e.g.: ‘Daddy, can I take a picture of you?’ (Suppose the child’s father has been working in the garden and his clothes are covered with dirt) and daddy replies: ‘Don’t you dare!’ In BrE, it’s also possible to say: ‘You dare!’

When used as an modal aux. it also has a negative contracted form: ‘daren’t’

e.g.: She daren’t go home, although, personally, I’ve never actually heard an Englishman or an American converse using ‘daren’t’. Some of you might, if so, I’d very much like to hear your opinion @Torsten, @Anglophile, @NearlyNapping, @Arinker

The use of ‘daresay’ or ‘dare say’

Either is okay, I mean you can write this as one word or two. The meaning is that something is very likely or that you agree with something that is true.

E.g. : - A man eating his lunch in between other activities- suddenly his boss snatches the dish out of his hand:

  • Man: ‘Oh, that is my lunch!’
  • Boss: ‘Yes, I daresay, but what is it?’

I saw this in a Lorimar Television production: ‘Who’s Killing The Great Chefs of Europe?’, starring Robert Morley and Jacqueline Bisset. Quite a great film for its time, but I don’t think a lot of people nowadays would find it very interesting.
A better example would be: ‘Jackie Collins’s novels have all been a big succes’ - ‘Yes, I daresay she was very talented.’ (Indeed ‘was’, because Jackie Collins passed away in 2015 of breast cancer.)

I hope that forum members will find this information useful and since there is a thread about ‘dare and need’ on the forum, I thought, I’ll share the information with the others.


I’m pretty sure I have never heard anyone say ‘daren’t’.
( I notice that the spell checker doesn’t recognize it either. )

It’s possible I’ve heard daresay. But if I have it’s been extremely rare. It’s one of the many things you might hear in a movie or TV script, but normal people never say.


Neither have I - as I said before - but I think it’s grammmatically possible, but practically…Nooooooooo, Neeeeeeeeever! :slight_smile:

Just the same as a passive of the present perfect progressive like:

  • He’s been being brought up by his grandmother.

Yes, theoretically, this is possible, but since the structure is too complicated neither English natives nor English speakers would ever use it. @NearlyNapping


I don’t remember ever hearing “daren’t”.
I have heard “dare say” by posh characters in fiction.
I have heard “dasn’t”.References say it is a dialect, possibly from German immigrants.


Hi Arinker,

What you say is most possibly true, just like all languages sort of lend words from others, like:

  • faux-pas: e.g. - you intrude into a social situation, for example a party and you haven’t been invited to it. Then you can say: ‘I’m sorry for the social faux-pas, it won’t happen again.’ Oh, yes, I fully agree that someone who puts on lots of airs and graces would undoubtedly use it.
  • raconteur: storyteller: ‘He’s a great raconteur.’

It’s obviously clear that both words are French, but in English they’re pronounced with an English accent. This is not surprising, since they were actually embedded in the language a long time ago. In addition, one of the first royal dynasties ever to rule England was that of the Normans - William The Conqueror, remember?
However, so far, I’ve only heard them used by people who have climbed the social ladder, as it were, or by others, born into wealthy and so-called decent families, sometimes referred to by some as the ‘upper class’ ad nauseam. Nonetheless, in the eighties there was a song by Prince and the lyrics contained the following line: ‘You don’t have to watch Dynasty to have an attitude’ That’s true, you see, people who did were often proned to the most bizarre behaviour, if you know what I mean. Moreover, since they actually never thought of the consequences that this might have, they often ran up debts, because they bought things they really couldn’t afford. So it’s always good to be a bit, if not a lot down to earth. This doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to dress decently, beautifully… No! Whether or not people like you all depends on your attitude. That’s how feel about it.

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