I would like to know if there is any kind of negation in this question.

Thanks a lot

closed as off-topic by James K, RubioRic, Hellion, shin, Varun Nair Mar 5 at 10:44

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  • 1
    Hi, and welcome to the English Language Learner's Stack Exchange? There's plenty of people here happy to help people with learning English, but it helps if we get some more detail or background on questions. Do you think there is negation? Why are you unsure? What research have you done to try to work this out yourself? – SamBC Mar 3 at 10:09
  • Thank you very much. This question is a translation of a rhetorical question found in the Quran which negates that Allah will punish people if they thanked and believed in Him. I think the English translation has no sort of negation. – user90668 Mar 3 at 10:33
  • If you thank Allah and believe in him, he doesn’t punish you. – Andrew Tobilko Mar 3 at 11:00
  • I think this just a particular feature of Arabic, not English. In Arabic the word "ما" can be used to negate past tense verbs. But ما also means "what". However the correctness of the translation is off topic here. – James K Mar 3 at 14:01

There is no negation here. I cannot comment on the original Arabic, but this is expressed in English as what appears (without context) to be a rhetorical question, to which the obvious answer is "he shouldn't". This sort of structure is used to say how obvious something is - that obviously one won't be punished in a certain situation.

If, however, this sentence is followed by another sentence that answers the question (say, to say why someone would be punished in that situation), it would be hypophora, the rhetorical device of asking a question and immediately answering it. You sometimes see the two combined, of course, where an obvious question that might be rhetorical is then answered immediately.

The rhetorical usage also occurs in everyday speech:

"Did you move my handbag?"

"Why would I do that?"

It then expresses not only an implied negative response (though some people play with the fact that it's only implied to claim they aren't lying if they say that when they did move the handbag), but also to express something else about the original question or statement that it is in response to - in this case, that it is somewhat ridiculous.

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