Was it not his Self, his small, fearful and proud Self, with which he had wrestled for so many years, but which had always conquered him again, which appeared each time again and again, which robbed him of happiness and filled him with fear? Was it not this which had finally died today in the wood by this delightful river?

Would you please in a more readily way tell me if I have properly explain the following?

From my point of view, such a usage of using the adverb not-- that is, after subject-- shows emphasis or the context is literary. S, the following could mean the same thing:

does not he go there?

does he not go there?

The specific question: what is the difference between the following, and would you refer me to a accredited-- autharetive-- site in order that I could get it better?

was it not something...?

was not it something...?

Thanks in advance

  • What exactly is the question here? Uncontracted "Does not he care?" is a stilted / antiquated / non-idiomatic usage in most contexts, so feasibly if you did encounter a current instance you might assume the purpose was emphasis (unless you knew it was from a non-native speaker, in which case it's far more likely to be just a mistake). One effect of using not in the initial citation above is to imply more strongly that the narrator/subject is inclined to believe the speculation is in fact true. But it's as much a matter of style as semantics. Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 13:47

1 Answer 1


Does not he go there?

Does he not go there?

In modern English, when you form negative interrogative sentences, you use "not" either after the subject in formal English or before the subject in a contracted form in conversational English. The use of "not" in an uncontractrd form before the subject, as pointed out by FumbleFingers, is outdated and rarely used in modern English. So, normally formed sentences are as follows:

Doesn't he go there?

Does he not go there?

Was it not something?

Wasn't it something?

Pls consult Oxford University Press - A Practical English Grammar, Chapter 10.

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