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Hi! Can anyone tell me whether the following sentences are grammatical or not?
1. Why you do not go to school?
2. Why do you not go to school?
3. Why don't you go to school?
4. Why you cannot go to school?
5. Why can you not go to school?
6. Why can't you go to school?
Are there any semantic differences among sentences 4-6?
Thank you very much!
Thank you very much!
Some experts say that the answer is sometimes YES.
1. "Why don't you go to school?" is the usual question. You are asking for information.
2. "Why do you not go to school?" is (a) very formal and (b) sometimes rhetorical. * That is, the speaker is
expressing surprise, anger, etc.
a. Here are two examples from one expert. **
i. Have I not asked you again and again to be here on time?
ii. Are there not more than enough weapons of destruction on earth? [The expert tells us that this is a
rhetorical question. That is, a question that does not require an answer.]
3. Another expert *** gives these examples of semantic difference:
i. "Doesn't anyone know the answer?" [The expert says this means "Surely someone knows the answer." That is (in my opinion): I am sure that someone must know the answer. After all, there are 50 people in this room. There must be at least one person who knows the answer.]
ii. Does anyone not know the answer? [The expert says that this means: "Is there anyone who does not know the answer?" That is (in my opinion): This question is so simple that I am positive that all 50 people in this room, of course, know the answer.]
4. Two experts **** give advice that seems to disagree with the experts above.
a. They say that "Why didn't you do the work?" shows anger. They say that it means: "You should have!"
b. The other experts seem to say that anger would be shown by "Excuse me, young man! Why did you not
do your work? Did I not tell you a million times to do it?"
5. My respectful advice: "Always" use the contracted form. If you use the non-contracted form,
you might accidentally give the impression to someone that you are angry or surprised when you actually
* Roderick A. Jacobs, English Syntax / A Grammar for English Language Professionals (1995), p. 262.
** L.G. Alexander, Longman English Grammar (1988), p. 255.
*** Randolph Quirk (and three colleagues), A Comprensive Grammar of the English Language (1985), p. 810.
**** Marianne Celce-Murcia and Diane Larsen-Freeman, The Grammar Book (1983), p. 153.
Last edited by TheParser; 25-Oct-2012 at 16:56.