Do not insult the poor.

The above sentence was asked in my exam for voice conversion. I had four options, managed to rule out two of them but confused between these two.

A) Let the poor not be insulted.

B) Let the poor be not insulted.

I tried to find answer to my problem but couldn't find concrete answer. I guess both are same in meaning with just a subtle difference in construction but since its a MCQ question I need to choose one answer, which one should I choose ? Which construction is the better one ? The solution has A as answer but doesn't explain why.

  • Neither of them actually mean "Do not insult the poor". - "Let" means "allow, permit,make it possible" so the negative means "don't allow, don't permit, don't make it happen" which really is "Do not allow insulting of the poor/insults towards the poor" Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 18:40

3 Answers 3


What are the other two options? I suspect that the correct answer was actually one of the ones you ruled out.

"Let the poor not be insulted" and "Let the poor be not insulted" seem to me to both have to do with the poor people's own feelings on the matter. This is especially true in the latter case. Thus, if I only had the two answers to choose from, I'd pick A as sounding more like the intention.

However, I suspect the correct answer was actually "Let not the poor be insulted." That is a rather archaic way of saying "Do not insult the poor." Somebody might use it intentionally as an affectation.

  • 1
    +1 It could be indeed "Let not the poor be insulted." it's one other way I'm aware of. Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 16:15

The first sentence:

  • Let the poor not be insulted. - is a formal way of saying "Make it that the poor aren't insulted", which means that "the poor mustn't be insulted no matter what". It can be changed to "Do not let the poor be insulted".

"Let" is in the imperative here that means "give permission or make it possible for somebody to do or have something" and may be used in very formal situations such as political documents and speeches, and religious and other ceremonies.

The second sentence:

  • Let the poor be not insulted. - may either be incomplete and expect a "but' or may be an emphatic way of saying "Let the poor be [not insulted]" stressing the "not insulted" part.

In the first case it can read be an incomplete sentence like "Let the poor be not insulted but exterminated!" for instance.

In the second case it may be something like "Let the poor be not insulted and not offended" which can also be written as "Let the poor not be insulted or offended"


Let not the poor be insulted


let the poor not be insulted

Both are correct. One thing should be kept in mind that MEANING SHOULD NOT BE CHANGED.

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