What I was taught in grammar books or lectures is

Don't you want to come?

Does the expression below sound natural to a native speaker?

Do you not want to come?

Is the latter one more informal?

  • 13
    The second one is if anything more formal.
    – mdewey
    Aug 20, 2022 at 15:08
  • 3
    People talk like that in Ireland, do they not? English has many dialects, distinguished by word order as well as vocabulary and intonation.
    – Rich
    Aug 21, 2022 at 3:12
  • 1
    Worth pointing out that the expanded version of the 'natural' expression: 'do not you want to come?' isn't grammatically correct. Related: "Do you not" vs. "Don't you"
    – mcalex
    Aug 22, 2022 at 3:15

4 Answers 4


The use of negative questions is conversational. It implies an understanding or expectation between speaker and listener. It means something like

I had thought you wanted to come, but now you are acting like you don't want to come so please explain yourself.

Given the conversational, and therefore relatively informal nature of negative questions, it is more natural to use the less formal "Don't you want to come?"

Saying "Do you not want to come?" is correct, and means the same, but as it is more formal, it would be used less often.

  • 1
    At least in BrE there are (approximately north/south) regional differences in the usage of "Don't/Won't you" and "Do/Will you not". I first read about this many years ago in a David Crystal book whose name I forget (a slim tome full of maps of Britain, it might ring a bell with someone) and matches my subsequent experience.
    – Dannie
    Aug 22, 2022 at 13:32
  • A "slim tome"? Indeed?
    – Magoo
    Aug 23, 2022 at 2:31

Answerers are focusing on the more "formal" nature of the second option, but I don't believe that's the key to this.

If I see "Do you not want to come?" written down, I would hear it in my head with an emphasis on "not want", and more than a little incredulity.

"After everything we've said, after all the organisation that we've put in place, after our best-friends-forever pact, and now this! Do you not want to come? Is that it? You really are going to blow us out and not come? You are dead to me!"

  • 10
    That escalated quickly! Aug 21, 2022 at 2:17
  • 1
    I think the emphasis is mostly because of context and stress. I would feel the the same emphasis if you used "Don't you want to come?" in the same example and stressing on "Don't".
    – Ivo
    Aug 22, 2022 at 6:39
  • This answer is exactly correct.
    – Fattie
    Aug 22, 2022 at 15:25

They're both correct, but they don't have the same function.

"Don't you want to come?" is a negative question, and the meaning is something like, "I thought you wanted to come, but now I'm not as sure. Can you confirm that I'm right?"

Parent of 6-year-old: Don't you want dessert? You've never skipped dessert in your life!

"Do you not want to come?" is a normal question which happens to have a negative proposition. It literally means what it says, which is a request to know if they don't want to come. Nothing suggests the speaker's previous belief.

Friend at a restaurant: Do you not want dessert? If you're not ordering any, neither will I.

  • 1
    This needs to be higher up, IMO (native speaker) — this is an important distinction that's missing from the other answers. Aug 22, 2022 at 12:20

Both are natural. The latter is more formal then the former.

  • What's your mother tongue?
    – Michael
    Aug 29, 2022 at 13:06
  • @Michael I'm a monolinguist.
    – BCLC
    Sep 9, 2022 at 12:03

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