1

Consider this last phrase of Jesus, as found on Wikipedia:

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do

I have a problem with the phrase: "...know not...". I am not a native speaker and find this phrase confusing. To me, it suggests the same idea as this complete phrase: "they know, not what they do, rather they know something else (which they do not do)". I honestly wonder if this is in fact the true interpretation.

I wish to know if this phrase structure is correct English grammar.

Thank you!

  • In case of any clarification, please comment. Thank you! – Gaurang Tandon Jan 9 '18 at 8:59
  • They were grammatical for the time in which that English was written. Also, Jesus did not speak English. Those words are a translation of an ancient text, which was itself a translation. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 9 '18 at 9:12
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo Oh! I did not know that before... – Gaurang Tandon Jan 9 '18 at 9:16
3

You know not = You don't know.

In normal formal or informal English, you use the phrases do not, does not, and did not in front of a verb like know to form the negative. The structure verb + not is highly formal, especially found in scriptures, poetry,old English, etc. Moreover, this structure makes a stronger statement.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.