"Not lost are you, my dear?" said a voice in his ear, making him jump.

I guess it simply means "Are you lost, my dear?", but I'm not sure. On the other hand, the word order looks odd to me. Is it a common sentence?

A bit context: Harry was lost in Knockturn Alley and he was trying to find a way out to Diagon Alley. Then suddenly, he ran into an aged witch, who said that to Harry.

1 Answer 1


It is elliptical.

[You are] not lost, are you, my dear?

It's colloquial, and I suppose we could consider it a gentler and politer form of the question "Are you lost?"

  • 1
    I wonder if it could be considered hyperbaton?
    – amI
    Oct 26, 2018 at 16:04
  • Original line is not: "Not lost, are you, my dear?", but "Not lost are you, my dear?", which makes me think if it's hyperbaton as @aml pointed out?
    – dan
    Oct 26, 2018 at 18:40
  • 1
    And what does putting a label on it do for you in terms of understanding her question? (Not that I agree with basing an understanding of the question on the way it happened to be punctuated there.)
    – TimR
    Oct 26, 2018 at 18:44
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo I'm not sure if I understand your comment. :(
    – dan
    Oct 26, 2018 at 19:02
  • What purpose is served by putting the label "hyperbaton" on her question? How does that help you to understand what it means or its tone or register? It is a perfectly natural way to ask the question. Compare Not having second thoughts, are you?
    – TimR
    Oct 26, 2018 at 19:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .