Let's look at Present Simple. As far as I understand there is [almost] no difference between

I play this game.
I do play this game.

The first question: can I form negative sentences this way?

(1) I play not this game.
    I do not play this game.

I know, (1) seems weird, but I have found a lot of examples of using this:

Forget not the tyranny of this wall, ... [1]

Death or healing, I care not which you seek. [2]

Speak not those words. [3]

The use of (1) seems quite logical to me as for beginner English learner. So, if we look at Present Perfect:

I have played this game.
I have not played this game.

We can see the same (or not?) way of forming negative sentences. Present Continuous:

I am writing now.
I am not writing now.

It's still logical for me. And now Past Simple:

I played this game.
I did play this game.

The second question: can I form negative sentences this way?

(2) I played not this game.
    I did not play this game.

(2) is VERY weird, but seems logical. Or not :)


  • I would also add that "I do play this game" and "I play this game" are quite different. "I do play this game" is only usable if you're denying an assertion that you don't play it or contrasting it with another game that you don't play. e.g., "I don't play chess, but I do play checkers." – mamster Oct 29 '17 at 19:50

The short answer is "no".

The long answer is that "I verb not" was the usual pattern at an earlier stage in the development of the English language, and it survives with auxiliaries (hence "I have not played" and "I am not writing"), with "be" as a full verb ("I am not happy") and sometimes with "have" as a full verb ("I haven't anything to eat"). These same verbs can form questions with simple inversion ("Have you anything to eat?", "Are you happy?", "Has she played?", "Is he writing?").

All other verbs add the dummy auxiliary "do" when forming a negation or a question.

(It's been pointed out by Mv Log that the old pattern survives in a few idioms such as the colloquial "I kid you not", i.e. "I'm not joking".)

The exceptions you've found are archaisms, and you might find them in the Authorized Version of the Bible, in Shakespeare, and in other pre-20th-century works, but you won't often find them in modern literature or in everyday speech.

I played not this game.

This is archaic if it's a full sentence. But it becomes acceptable and idiomatic but if it's only the first half of a sentence, like this:

I played not this game, but (rather) that one.

"Not" is now negating the noun phrase, though, rather than the verb.

  • Let's not forget some idioms e.g. I kid you not – Michael Login Oct 29 '17 at 17:59
  • @MvLog: Good point. I have added it in my answer. Thanks. – rjpond Oct 29 '17 at 18:34

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