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  1. #1
    aoeui Guest

    Default about wide use of "do"

    From what I have noticed, English speakers just love to use "do" as the main verb as opposed to the actual verb they mean. What I am wondering is do the following really have the same meaning?

    I do not know.
    I know not.

    If so, why are we so quick to throw in an extra verb?

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: about wide use of "do"

    'I know not' is used occasionally, but it is archaic. The normal negative would be 'do not'.

  3. #3
    aoeui Guest

    Default Re: about wide use of "do"

    Why has it become archaic? The structure makes plenty of sense. One might say, "I know well," but shy away from "I know not," why? I know "do not" is normal, because it is what seemingly everyone uses.

  4. #4
    M56 Guest

    Default Re: about wide use of "do"

    Quote Originally Posted by aoeui
    Why has it become archaic? The structure makes plenty of sense. One might say, "I know well," but shy away from "I know not," why? I know "do not" is normal, because it is what seemingly everyone uses.
    I'd also shy away from "I know well".

  5. #5
    aoeui Guest

    Default Re: about wide use of "do"

    Well regardless, "I do not" and "I know not" have the same exact construction (subject - verb - adverb); if the former is acceptible, the latter should be no less. I know that "do" has been used for ages, but I wonder if it was ever used so frequently as today (Has someone a good background in the history of English?). I tend to believe writers (and speakers) in the past preferred more variety and elegance. (Yes, this is being critical of a tiny aspect of the language, but I like to think about why I say what I do or what I might say instead.)

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: about wide use of "do"

    They're not exactly the same as it should be 'I do not know' vs 'I know not'.

    It's hard to say why things become archaic- language change can be arbitrary. I don't agree that older English was more elegant- it depends entirely on the user. It tended to be wordier- compare the essays writers of the eightenenth century with those of today. However, time has filtered out most of the dross, leaving us with the best of old writing. Most of the writing of today will also be forgotten. Collie Cibber (if that's how it's written) was a popular writer at the time of Pope, yet his is only remembered today because Pope laughed at him. Time will filter out the dross and leave the Philp Larkins and other great language users of this age.

  7. #7
    RonBee's Avatar
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    Default Re: about wide use of "do"

    It's hard to say what influences change. Patrick Henry's famous line is: "I know not what course others may take, but give me liberty or give me death." These days, in ordinary language we would not say I know not, but I do not know. I do not see do there as an "extra" verb but as a "helping verb" (auxiliary verb).

  8. #8
    claretNick Guest

    Talking Re: about wide use of "do"

    "do" in this construction is not a verb:

    [IP I [I' [INFL do [VP [V' [NEGP not] [V know]]]]]]

    Some "English" grammars don't permit a verb to move out of VP across as negative phrase into INFL, where it needs to be at S-Structure, hence the need for "do not know" (where "do" is inserted to meet the s-structure requirement for some inflected element to be in INFL - often called "do-insertion").

    This explains why *I see not.

    To further demonstrate, note that you can say "I have not" and "I do not have": in the former, "have", as an auxiliary, can make the cross-phrasal movement.

    Hope this helps

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