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    • Join Date: Mar 2007
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    #1

    Use of "not" in a question

    Considering these three sentences:
    Did I say that very thing?
    Did not I say that very thing?
    Did I not say that very thing?

    Obviously, the questioner is expecting the hearer to answer "yes" to the first question and "no" to the second and third questions, but, the hearer is expected to get the exact same point: the questioner did indeed say that very thing.

    What is the rule of English on this use of "not" to actually intensify the positive statement.
    I first thought the "not" was an intensifier, but cannot justify this and don't think it correct.
    Help?

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Use of "not" in a question

    Quote Originally Posted by The Editor View Post
    Considering these three sentences:
    Did I say that very thing?
    Did not I say that very thing?
    Did I not say that very thing?

    Obviously, the questioner is expecting the hearer to answer "yes" to the first question and "no" to the second and third questions, but, the hearer is expected to get the exact same point: the questioner did indeed say that very thing.

    What is the rule of English on this use of "not" to actually intensify the positive statement.
    I first thought the "not" was an intensifier, but cannot justify this and don't think it correct.
    Help?
    Sentence 3 is correct. It's a strange anomaly that when you use the contraction "didn't" the sentence becomes "Didn't I say that very thing?" but when you use the full words, it's "Did I not........"


    • Join Date: Mar 2007
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    #3

    Re: Use of "not" in a question

    Thanks!
    But, what is the "rule" of English that I can point to, to explain the use of NOT in this situation? In other words, what function is the "not" fulfilling? It is a negation? and if so, how is the entire sentence viewed as saying the same thing sentence 1 is saying?

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Use of "not" in a question

    Mmm. Think of it more like "I just said that, didn't I?"
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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