In writing, contraction should be avoided, right?

However, I feel strange to see "do not you" instead of "don't you".

I wonder if native speakers use "do not you" in writing instead of using "don't you".

Thank you in advance!

  • Why not instead say "is it not true that you like movies?" Or "Do you like movies?"
    – Element115
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 2:37
  • 1
    The only time a native speaker would say "do not you" as a question tag would be to get a laugh at the awkwardness of that phrasing. All other times we would use "don't you?" — "You like movies, don't you?"
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 3:40
  • I am SO sorry. I should have written "You like movies, do not you?" and "You like movies, don't you?" instead of using "Do" at the beginning.
    – user64707
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 4:41

3 Answers 3


"You like movies, do you not?" or "You like movies, don't you?"

The second option is more of a rhetorical question, in which the person asking knows the answer before it is given. The first is seems like a more typical question, and is slightly more formal. "...do not you?" is never correct. Use "...do you not?"


As @Robusto started to point out in the comments, no native speaker would ever use the phrase "do not you". We almost always use "don't you". As @user8577930 mentioned, there is the phrase "do you not", but this is very rarely used.

When people say you should avoid contractions in writing, there are three things to remember:

  1. It's perfectly fine grammatically to use them.

  2. They're just saying that it's bad style to use them in writing, but that is a traditional rule that is probably slowly going away, especially on the Internet.

  3. The phrase "don't you" is in the second person. Usually when people say you shouldn't use contractions, they are talking about when you are writing something formal in the third person, not the second. They are talking about when you write things like formal books, encyclopedia articles, etc. In that case, you need to write in the third person anyway, which prevents this problem.

    But there are types of formal writing that should usually be in the second person: a letter to a government official, an instruction manual, etc. If it's still formal, and if it's not on a website or piece of software, usually you should still avoid contractions. (This is when you might say "do you not".) But when you're dealing with something less formal (such as a blog on your website), it is just not the kind of writing that these people are talking about, and contractions are not an issue.

  • 1
    Thank you very much for your answer in detail! I understood.
    – user64707
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 4:50
  • "@Robusto started to point out"? I think I absolutely pointed it out, and with no padding or wasted words. ^_^
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 4:22

When used to form a question, "do" goes before the subject while "not" goes after it. For example:

  • "Don't you like movies?" -> "Do you not like movies?"
  • "You like movies, don't you?" -> "You like movies, do you not?"
  • "Why aren't you staying?" -> "Why are you not staying?"
  • "You're sad, aren't you?" -> "You're sad, are you not?"

In sentences like these, it's definitely more common to use the version with a contraction than to use the version without.

You could also rephrase the question to avoid the negation ("Do you like movies?"), but that changes the nuance a bit: the original sentence has a stronger implication that you're assuming the person likes movies, or that you think the more correct/accurate answer is that they like movies. There are other ways to phrase it that convey similar meaning, but they're usually longer, like: "Am I correct in thinking you like movies?"

Nowadays contractions are commonly used in "semi-formal" communications like business emails and blog posts, so personally I think you only need to avoid them in very formal situations such as a resume / cover letter, or a legal document. This may vary somewhat by industry, though.

  • Thank you very much for your answer in detail. I understood!
    – user64707
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 4:50

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