What you've not to do

< Previous | Next >
  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    One of the quaint things about Elfland, as well as other Tolkien venues, is that grammatical contemporary English is not spoken. Read such literature as you would songs or poetry: Expect not grammar perfect. ;)
     

    Franco-filly

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England
    It is grammatically correct although rare in everyday speech. Given the context of a warlock speaking, I think it adds to the mystery/excitement of the text.
     

    Paulfromitaly

    MODerator
    Italian
    Thanks for your replies.
    Would someone use that construction in an every day conversation only out of illiteracy or is it actually okay in some English dialects? (I think I've heard it a couple of times in Scotland..)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi Paul

    It doesn't sound terribly strange to me - although it's not something I would naturally say: I'd be much more likely to say "what you mustn't do".
     

    Paulfromitaly

    MODerator
    Italian
    Hi Paul

    It doesn't sound terribly strange to me - although it's not something I would naturally say: I'd be much more likely to say "what you mustn't do".
    Hi Ms L :)

    I'm sure you wouldn't say it, but I assume you might have heard someone say it? Maybe up north?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It is not at all a Tolkien expression, but it is grammatically correct and entirely understandable.
    It is part of a logical combination - 'Well, my son,' said the Warlock Merlin, 'there are but two things, simple they may seem, but hard they are to, do. One thing to do, and one thing not to do.'
    How else would you say it?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi Ms L


    I'm sure you wouldn't say it, but I assume you might have heard someone say it? Maybe up north?
    Maybe, Paul - let's see if we get any answers from Scottish contributors....


    Ah, I see that for panj it's absolutely normal:)
     
    Last edited:

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'You've not to do (such-and such)' was a common expression in Lancashire when I was growing up. It makes good sense as the negative of 'you've to do', also a common phrase.
    Having lived in London for decades now, I don't recall hearing either form for a long time. It ought to be comprehensible in any part of the country.
    It must sound odd to American ears, because it combines two forms of expression which AE for some reason avoids:
    (a) the contraction of 'you have' to 'you've' when 'got' is not part of the phrase;
    (b) placing 'not' outside the infinitive (BE: 'not to do'; AE: 'to not do').
     

    frenchifried

    Senior Member
    English - UK/US
    It is perhaps a little archaic, but Panjandrum is right, and somehow, AE, BE and NE (New English) apart, it is rather elegant and concise. :cool:
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    'You've not to do (such-and such)' was a common expression in Lancashire when I was growing up.
    It still is.
    They do some pretty odd* stuff with have in Lancashire. It doesn't sound at all odd to me:)


    * I mean 'odd in relation to the standard'.
     

    Lyndon

    Banned
    N/A
    Interesting to note that this "You've not to do ..." is a distinct prohibition, while the modern/standard "You don't have to ..." merely says it's not necessary.
     

    Paulfromitaly

    MODerator
    Italian
    Thank you again.

    Last question: Is it in any case a construction that has to be avoided in written English where "you mustn't" should be preferred?
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If I were you, I wouldn't use "You've to ..." or "You've not to ..." in written English (except where representing regional speech) because:
    (1) They are not standard forms;
    (2) A lot of people would not grasp the meaning; and
    (3) Some might conclude (wrongly) that you don't know the standard forms.
     

    Paulfromitaly

    MODerator
    Italian
    If I were you, I wouldn't use "You've to ..." or "You've not to ..." in written English (except where representing regional speech) because:
    (1) They are not standard forms;
    (2) A lot of people would not grasp the meaning; and
    (3) Some might conclude (wrongly) that you don't know the standard forms.
    Thanks, that's what I wanted to know :)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't see anything odd about it. I would not use "what you have not to do" on its own in writing, but I would use "what you have to do is x, y, and z, but what you have not to do is to stick your tongue out at The Queen". I think that makes me similar to Panj - although there's not a drop of Irish in me as far as I am aware. My English is derived from a Scottish father, a Londoner mother, education in Birmingham and a great deal of mobility in adult life.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    How else would you say it?
    What not to do ...
    or What you are not to do ...

    I agree with Loob. "What you've not to do" doesn't sound terribly strange.

    Well maybe just a tad quaint.

    I think it is perfectly understandable. I would never think it meant the same as "What you don't have to do". It is more like:

    What you have yet to do (= what you are yet to do = what you still need to do = what is yet to be done)

    ... but with not instead of yet, along with the obvious change in meaning:

    What you've not to do = what you are not to do = what you need to not do = what is not to be done.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Hello,

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/eft/eft22.htm

    I'd have expected the part in bold to read "What you're not allowed do/must not do".
    Is the construction " have not to" correct at all?
    One of the quaint things about Elfland, as well as other Tolkien venues, is that grammatical contemporary English is not spoken. Read such literature as you would songs or poetry: Expect not grammar perfect. ;)
    Child 1: "Are you coming out to play in the park?"
    Child 2: "I'll come out, but my mother says I haven't to go in the park."

    "I have now retired and I am glad I haven't to get up at 6 o'clock every morning."
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Child 1: "Are you coming out to play in the park?"
    Child 2: "I'll come out, but my mother says I haven't to go in the park."

    "I have now retired and I am glad I haven't to get up at 6 o'clock every morning."
    These are quite different in meaning, and I suspect in usage.

    The first "... I haven't to go in the park," is quite alien to me, but I understand it to mean that my mother has forbidden me to go in the park.
    It defines a constraint.

    The second ".... I haven't to get up at 6 o'clock every morning," is familiar. It means that I am now free from the necessity to get up at 6 o'clock every morning.
    It declares freedom from a constraint.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I agree with panj's comments about PaulQ's post 24: there are two different meanings here.

    And "My mother says I haven't to go in the park" also sounds much more strange/old-fashioned to me than "My mother says I've not to go in the park".
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top