Is this sentence correct?

I don't after the position.

I think that this is the correct sentence:

I am not after the position.

Please let me know why the first sentence is wrong.

  • Your first example isn't valid because do there is just an auxiliary verb which requires a main verb (such as lust, which would fit in your context). The second one is fine because am (=BE) is a copula form, which doesn't need another verb. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 22 '16 at 14:20
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    @FumbleFingers Would you consider posting your answer as an answer instead of putting it in the comments section? – snailplane Oct 22 '16 at 18:02
  • @snailplane: I was kinda hoping someone else might be able to shed light on why a learner might confuse do and be in contexts like this (I like ELL answers that explain why people might be led into mistakes, as well as setting them straight about correct / idiomatic usage). I thought OP's misunderstanding here might be something to do with the way some Americans say What do you got? instead of What have you got? (imho, inadequately explained by saying that contracted What'd'ya got? would be the same for either). But basically yes - I'll get around to "answering". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 23 '16 at 12:59
  • @Jaj I'm guessing. Does I'm not after something sound like an action and so after sounds more like a verb in your first language? If that's the case, you can solve this kind of problem yourself the next time you find a similar expression (e.g., He's ahead of his time) by looking it up in dictionaries. If it (i.e., after, ahead, etc.) is a preposition, you need the verb (to) be (i.e., am/is/are/was/were/has been/have been/had been), not the verb (to) do. – Damkerng T. Oct 25 '16 at 22:20

When you say do not X, X has to be a verb, not a preposition.

I do not the candy (wrong)

I do not want the candy (right)

It's wrong because do + verb is a construction often used in English, and if there is a not, it goes in the middle like other helping verbs, e.g. I have not gone, etc.

As an FYI, go works fine like this.

I go after the candy.

but remember negative verb forms in English require do:

I do not go after the candy.

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Examine the positive forms:-

"don't after" suggests the negation of a verb, since the English negation of the simple present tense uses "don't" followed by the bare infinitive.

  • I after the position
  • I am after the position.

Now the word "after" is a preposition, sometimes an adverb, or more rarely an adjective or a conjunction. It is not used as a verb. Hence "I don't after..." is not grammatically correct.

The second form is fine. The word "after" functions as a preposition, meaning "in pursuit of". And the English negation of "I am" is "I am not".

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