We are taught when you negate a verb, you use "do not", "does not" or "did not" for general verbs, but you only have to add "not" after the verb in the case of Be-verb. If this rule should be applied in all cases, I think "Be not.." is the only correct writing. Please advise me.

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    Although do is not normally used as an auxiliary with be, this happens in negative imperatives: Don't be silly! Jan 17, 2019 at 0:35

2 Answers 2


The correct modern expression is

Don't be late for school.

This is a standard negation of the imperative:

Put on your shoes ➡ Don't put on your shoes.

Run to catch the bus ➡ Don't run to catch the bus

It is the same for the "be" verb:

Be the best student ➡ Don't be the best student

That being said, archaic English does include your negation. It would not be correct to use it in ordinary conversation, but you might find this kind of expression in things like period dramas, older manuscripts, and religious texts:

Be not so proud as to think yourself wholly without sin.

Trust not those who would wish you ill.

Naturally you can use this if you want to sound like someone speaking old-fashioned English, or making some kind of officious proclamation:

Be not late for school, lest ye be remanded to the Pit of Detention.


Placing "not" after a verb is grammatical but very old fashioned except for the negation of auxlliary verbs such as "do not"(don't), "will not"(won't), "can not"(can't) and so on. It probably hasn't been used in ordinary speech for at least 200 years.

Also when it was current it wasn't limited to the verb "to be", any verb could be negated in that way, a good example is John Donne's famous sentence "Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee". John Donne lived from 1572 to 1631.

The form has been used more recently but only formally and for artistic effect, for instance Go not to the temple by Rabindranath Tagore. This was a late 19th or early 20th century translation of a Bengali poem and the "Go not" construction was used for artistic effect, possibly to make the poem match the feel of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer or the King James Bible and, so, make it more obviously reigious.

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