negation

Luis Manuel

Senior Member
Spanish
Hello, everyone

I would appreciate it if you could help me resolve these doubts: which of the options (a) and (b) below is grammatically correct? If both, what is the difference (in meaning) betweem them?

(1) a. Don't you like fish?
(1) b. Do you not like fish?

(2) a. Why don't we go to the cinema?
(2) b. Why do we not go to the cinema?

(3) a. Haven't you been to London?
(3) a. Have you not been to London?

Thanks a lot
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    They're all grammatically correct, and there's no difference in meaning between the (a) and (b) forms.

    The (b) forms are less common thn the (a) forms.
     

    rhitagawr

    Senior Member
    British English
    There is a difference in tone. The a's all sound natural. They sound neutral in tone. You're just asking a question. The b's sound much more formal not to say strange. In particular, 2a sounds like an answer to a question. What shall we do tonight? - Why don't we go to the cinema? 2b could mean - not that anyone would ever say or even write it - Why don't we ever go to the cinema?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    It's a question of emphasis:

    (1) a. Don't you like fish? - Are you a person who does not like fish?
    (1) b. Do you not like fish? - I am surprised that fish is not to your taste.

    (2) a. Why don't we go to the cinema? - I have a suggestion: Let us go to the cinema.
    (2) b. Why do we not go to the cinema? - Why is it that we never go to the cinema?

    (3) a. Haven't you been to London? - Have you never visited London?
    (3) a. Have you not been to London? - I was under the impression that you had been to London - am I wrong?

    These as the basic versions. A lot will depend on tone, and context.
     

    Tower of Babel

    Senior Member
    USA
    USA (American English)
    The questions in (2) are different from (1) and (3).

    But first, regarding (1) and (3), both variants (a) and (b) are grammatically correct and mean basically the same thing. Variant (b) expresses somewhat more surprise than variant (a).

    The questions in (2) are different from (1) and (3), however, because (2)a isn't really a question at all – it's an idiomatic way of making a suggestion. It's a way of saying "Let's go to the cinema." On the other hand, (2)b really IS a question, which might get an answer such as "Because we're always so busy." I'd be surprised if someone replied like that to 2(a), because 2(a) is not really a question.
     
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