The negative verb forms are made by putting not after an auxiliary verb.
- She has invited us. (Affirmative)
- She has not invited us. (Negative)
- It was raining. (Affirmative)
- It was not raining. (Negative)
- She can knit. (Affirmative)
- She cannot knit. (Negative)
If there is no auxiliary verb, do is used to make the negative verb forms.
- I like reading. (Affirmative)
- I do not like reading. (Negative)
Note that do is followed by an infinitive without to.
- She didn’t come. (NOT She didn’t to come.)
Do is not normally used if there is another auxiliary verb.
- You should not go. (NOT You don’t should go.)
Infinitives and -ing forms
The negative forms of infinitives and -ing forms are made by putting not before them. Do is not used.
- The best thing about weekends is not working.
Not can be put with other parts of a clause, not just the verb.
- Ask John, not his father.
- Come early, but not before six.
We do not usually use not with the subject. Instead we use a structure with it.
- It was not John who broke the window, but his brother. (NOT Not John broke the window, but his brother.)
Other negative words
Not isn’t the only word that can make a clause negative. There are some other negative words too. Examples are: never, hardly, seldom, rarely etc.
- He does not work.
- He hardly ever works.
- He never works.
- He seldom works.
We do not normally use words like some, somebody, something etc in negative clauses. Instead, we use non-assertive words like any, anybody, anything etc.
- I have caught some fish.
- I haven’t caught any fish.