Negation: Verbs & Clauses for intermediate learners

Negation is the process that turns an affirmative statement into a negative one. In this lesson, we will learn about ways of creating negative sentences.

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"Negation of Verbs and Clauses" In the English Grammar

What Is Negation for Verbs and Clauses?

When we want to change clauses and sentences to the negative form, we should start by negating the verbs. We will learn all about how to negate different types of verbs in this lesson.

Negation with 'Not'

One of the most common ways to change sentences and clauses to negative forms is to use 'not'. Take a quick look at the following examples:

I want to study English Literature. → I do not want to study English Literature.

Lamia is at the office right now. → Lamia is not at the office right now.

Tip!

The contracted form of 'not' is 'n't' and it comes directly after the verb. Take a look at the following examples:

She doesn't want to swim right now.

I don't like to work.

Now, let us see how we can change some common verbs to the negative form:

Be

As you already know, 'be' is both the main verb and an auxiliary verb and is the most common verb in the English language. By adding 'not' to it, we can easily change it to the negative form. Look at the examples below:

I am in the university. → I'm not in the university.

Halsey is my cousin. → Halsey isn't my cousin.

They are eating dinner. → They are not eating dinner. (Or they aren't eating dinner.)

As you can see, we can use either the negative marker or the contracted form.

Warning!

Please note that the only case in which we cannot use the contracted form 'n't' is when we are using the 'be' verb with the first person. Take a look:

I am at school. → I am not at school.

(Not I amn't... )

Do

The second most common verb in the English language is 'do'. Just like the previous one, 'do' can also be used as both the main verb and the auxiliary verb. Let us see how we can change it to the negative form:

I write in English. → I don't write in English.

Reera wants to quit her job. → Reera doesn't want to quit her job.

As you can see, 'does' changes into the negative form just like 'do'.

Those lawyers enjoy what they do. → Those lawyers don't enjoy what they do.

Have

Another common verb in the English language is 'have'. Just like the previous two verbs, 'have' can also function as both the main verb and the auxiliary verb. Let us learn about negating it below:

I have gone to the theatre before. → I haven't gone to the theatre before.

Lily has been to New York. → Lily hasn't been to New York.

Warning!

Please note that we can only negate 'have' directly when it is as an auxiliary verb in perfect tenses. When the verb 'have' is used as the main verb, we can negate it using 'do/does'. Compare the following examples:

I have a glass of water. → I don't have a glass of water.

(Not I haven't...)

She has sung that song. → She hasn't sung that song.

Negative Questions

We use the same 'not' to form negative questions. Study the following examples carefully:

Are you on the phone? → Aren't you on the phone?

Is she really saying all this? → Isn't she really saying all this?

Do you like to play the piano? → Don't you like to play the piano?

Does your father shout at you? → Doesn't your father shout at you?

Tip!

It might be useful to know how to change imperative sentences into negative ones. We simply add 'not' or its contraction 'n't' to the verb at the beginning of the sentence. Check out the following examples:

Close the door. → Do not close the door. (Or don't close the door.)

Sit here. → Don't sit here.

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