Sentences can be divided into two primary groups – Affirmative or Positive, and Negative sentences.
An affirmative sentence simply states something. It is any declaration that is positive. An affirmative sentence expresses the validity of truth of an assertion.
Jane is a girl. – Is an example of an affirmative sentence.
Jane is not a boy. – Is an example of a negative sentence.
An affirmative or positive sentence means something is so, while a negative sentence – which is its polar opposite – means something is not so.
A sentence is usually made negative in English by placing the adverb ‘not’ after the finite verb. Such verbs are:
Be – (is/am/ are/ was/were)
Have – ( has/ had )
Can – (could )
Shall – (should)
Will – ( would)
May – (might)
How to make sentences negative:
- The verb ‘be’:
We put not after the various forms of the verb ‘be’.
Affirmative – He is working.
Negative – He is not working.
In case of ‘will be’ and ‘shall be’, we put ‘not’ after ‘will’ and ‘shall.’
Will be – will not be, shall be – shall not be.
- The verb ‘Have’ (has, had)
I have a pen. I have no pen.
I do not have a pen.
I don’t have a pen.
She has a pen. She has no pen.
She does not have a pen.
She doesn’t have a pen.
She had a pen. She had no pen
She did not have a pen.
She didn’t have a pen.
- Verb made of two or more words:
We put not after the first word.
She is painting. She is not painting.
He should take a break. He should not take a break.
- Simple Present Tense
We use either do not or does not with the root form of the verb.
I eat fruit daily. I do not eat fruit daily.
She eats fruit daily. She does not eat fruit daily.
[ he/ she / it – does] [ I/ you /we / they – do]
- Simple past tense
We use did not with the root form of the verb:
She played baseball. She did not play baseball.
They wrote essays. They did not write essays.
- Imperative sentences (commands)
We put do not (don’t) in the beginning of the sentence:
Close the door. Do not(don’t) close the door.
Give her the book. Do not (don’t) give her the book.
In spoken English the adverb ‘not’ is usually shortened to (n’t):
Unshortened form Shortened form
I am not I’m not
Is not Isn’t
Are not aren’t
Was not wasn’t
Have not haven’t
Has not hasn’t
Had not hadn’t
Do not don’t
Does not doesn’t
Did not didn’t
Could not couldn’t
Will not won’t
Would not wouldn’t
Shall not shan’t
Should not shouldn’t
Must not mustn’t
Ought not oughtn’t
Need not needn’t
Dare not daren’t
May not mayn’t
Might not mightn’t
I am a boy. I am (I’m) not a boy.
He is a doctor. He is not (isn’t) a doctor.
They are my friends. They are not (aren’t) my friends.
She was late yesterday. She was not wasn’t late yesterday.
He can speak French. He cannot (can’t) speak French.
She will go now. She will not (won’t) go now.
They may help us. They may not (mayn’t) help us.
It might cure her. It might not (mightn’t) cure her.
They ought to help her. They ought not (oughtn’t) help her.
Forming negatives using do (does) not and did not.
I like mangoes. I do not (don’t) like mangoes.
They live in London. They do not (don’t) live in London.
He speaks Spanish. He does not speak Spanish.
They tried hard. They did not try hard.
She bought a new pen. She did not buy a new pen.
Do it now. Do not (don’t) do it now.
Call everybody. Do not (don’t) call everybody.
The negative question or interrogative negative is formed by first making the interrogative sentence and then placing the adverb ‘not’ after the subject. If the shortened form of (n’t) is used then it is placed with the finite verb before the subject.
The interrogative form of ‘I am not’ is ain’t (colloquial) or ‘I am not’ (formal).
She went to college yesterday.
Did he not go to the college yesterday?
Didn’t she go to the college yesterday?
He has been to Paris.
Has she not been to Paris?
Hasn’t she been to Paris?
FOUR WAYS OF FORMING QUESTIONS
Is Sheena reading?
Isn’t Sheena reading?
Sheena is reading, isn’t she?
Sheena is not reading, is she?
These questions may be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
The last two Questions have been framed using Question tags.
Question tags are short questions added to the end of a sentence. A positive statement has a negative question tag and a negative statement has a positive question tag.
She is beautiful, isn’t she?
He is not playing, is he?
- Positive statement —– negative question tag.
- Negative statement —— positive question tag.
Eg. All these students will do well, won’t they?
He did not believe me, did he?