Although I have studied English for so many years, there are still too many confusing things I need to clear up.
"May I go?" This sentence is easy, it is used to ask for permision to leave. but what about "May I not go?"? Can we use this sentence to express "May I stay?"
"Can you speak in a lower voice?" This sentence is easy.but what about "Can you not speak so loudly?"? Can we use this sentence to express "Can you speak in a lower voice?"
I really need your help. Please!
Is it merely a matter of custom or are there any rules on when 'not negates the auxiliary and when the main verb?
Obviously, just seeing the words "Can you not speak so loudly?" should mean the same as "Can't you speak so loudly?"
However, it will be obvious that it means [Can you][not speak so loudly ?] - in which not is emphasised - rather than [Can you not][speak so loudly?].
I can't write the prosody well, but the rhythm and tone of the sentences are very different.
Will you not touch me like that? (Please don't touch me like that.)
Will you not touch me like that? (Please do touch me like that.)
Again, it depends entirely on how you say it.
In most cases, a less ambiguous choice of words is made.