Negative verb forms and structures in English grammar

by Jan 22, 2019English and Study Tips

Mohamed Abd

Community Contributor (Syria)

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The use of negative verb forms and structures in English grammar


When we want to say that something is not true or is not the case, we can use negative words, phrases or clauses.

Let’s have a look at the use of the negative forms and verbs in English grammar.

The negative is generally expressed in two ways:

1. By putting not after the verb.

This method is used with only twenty-one verbs.

Here is a list of them:

  • am
  • is
  • are
  • was
  • were
  • have
  • has
  • had
  • shall
  • should
  • will
  • would
  • may
  • might
  • must
  • need
  • dare
  • used


I am not ready. You must not do that. He cannot write well. He ought not to go.

2. By using do, does, did, with not and the present infinitive ( without to ).

This method is used with all verbs except those twenty -one given above.

The word order is:

SUBJECT + ( do, does, did ) + not + INFINITIVE


l do not go there very often. He does not teach English. They did not see the game.

In conversation, not is often shortened to n’t.

Thus we say don’t for do not, doesn’t for does not, didn’t for did not, hadn’t for had not, wouldn’t for would not, etc. (But we say shan’t for shall not, won’t for will not, can’t for cannot.)

Negation may also be expressed by other words of negative meaning: no, nobody, no one, nothing, nowhere.


They know nothing or They do not (don’t) know anything.

Thank you,

Mohamed Abd

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