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There are basically two different forms of NEGATION in the English language:

You must distinguish between:

'Simple Negation': required in sentences, where the MAIN VERB (predicate) is be or have got (or any tense form that is formed with be/ have)

Negation with "do": for sentences that have a MAIN VERB (predicate) which is NOT be or have got (or any tense form that is formed with be/ have)


Simple Negation:

The Verbs 'be' and 'have got' can be negated 'directly' - you don't need the auxiliary verb 'do'

CLICK HERE to see all forms of the verb be


Sue is a nice girl. Sue isn't a nice girl. - They were very sad. They weren't very sad. Pete has got a girlfriend. Pete hasn't got a girlfriend. - I've got a pen. I haven't got a pen.

All sentences in tenses that are formed with 'be' as auxiliary verb apply to the same rules!

Tenses that are formed with 'be':

- all Progressive forms


I am writing a letter. I'm not writing a letter. - He is singing a song. He isn't singing a song. Wilma was playing. Wilma wasn't playing. - The kids were eating. - The kids weren't eating.

Sentences in tenses that are formed with 'have' as auxiliary verb apply to the same rules as well!

Tenses that are formed with 'have':

- Present Perfect, Past Perfect


I have already done it. I haven't yet done it. - They had seen her before. They hadn't seen her before.

'can', 'may', 'might', 'could', 'would', 'should', 'shall', and 'will' can also be directly negated


I can do this. I can't do this. - She may go. She may not go. - They might be here. They might not be here. - We could do it. We couldn't do it.


Negation with 'do':

All sentences that do not belong to the above mentioned (i.e. all sentences with a main verb other than be or have, have got or 'can', 'may', 'might', 'could', 'would', 'should', 'shall', and 'will' ) are negated with the auxiliary verb 'do' as follows:

The tense must be the same in the positive and the negative sentence! The main verb in the positive sentence is replaced by the appropriate negative form of the verb 'do'; (appropriate means that the verb 'do' must be in the same tense as the original verb)

negative forms of 'do':

Present:                                                       Past:

- I don't - we don't                                       - I didn't - we didn't

- you don't - you don't                                  - you didn't - you didn't

- he/she/it doesn't - they don't                        - he/ she/ it didn't - they didn't


The verb 'do' is then followed by the original verb in its BASE FORM! "do" can NEVER be followed by a verb in any other tense form (like past participle etc.)


They like ice cream. They don't like ice cream. She plays the flute. She doesn't play the flute. We went to the cinema. We didn't go to the cinema. - They had breakfast. They didn't have breakfast.

Commands are also negated with 'do' (even if the main verb is 'be' or 'have')

Open the door! Don't open the door! - Be there at 8! Don't be late! - Have a look at this! Don't have a look at this!


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