𝕋hree new friends, after a morning of intense shopping, sit down at the terrace of their favourite café. The waiter approaches their table and they each place their order.

Then Mary says, "Ladies, ladies, I forgot to tell you that my husband, Victor, has decided to buy a yacht, on which we are going to have our honeymoon again... next year, on our wedding anniversary."

Patricia and Veronica look at her, speechless.

After catching her breath, Patricia says, "Oh, how could I forget! My husband Vincent is buying a small island off the coast of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. Of course you are welcome to visit any time, every summer when we are there."

Mary and Veronica feel their eyes pop out of their sockets with a mixture of amazement and jealousy.

Veronica, not to be outdone, says, "That's all very nice, girls. But get this: my husband, Hennessy..."

The other two stare at Veronica and ask, "Isn't Hennessy a liquor?"

Stunned, Veronica stammers, "You know... you know my husband?"

We now know that the interrogative form is obtained by reversing the subject, i.e. by placing the auxiliary verb before the subject. For example, from "They can travel tomorrow" we get the question... "Can they travel tomorrow? To make this simple question interro-negative, in other words, to make it a negative question, we add "not", like this: from "Can they travel tomorrow?" we get "Can they not travel tomorrow?" More often than not it becomes "Can't they travel tomorrow?"

Easy, isn't it? In addition to asking direct questions, negative interrogatives (also called interro-negative sentences) are commonly used to show that the speaker expecting a certain answer, to highlight or surprise. This is usually because the questioner wishes to suggest the answer they're expecting. And although the answer can apply to both a positive and a negative question, it is the questioner's state of mind that dictates the kind of question asked. In our joke above, imagine that the last question, just before the punchline, is "Is Hennessy a liqueur? This is merely a simple question. The person asking such a question does not suspect or assume anything about the name Hennessy. But... "Is Hennessy not an alcoholic beverage?" or Isn't Hennessy a liquor?" immediately implies that the person asking the question thinks the answer will be "Yes, it is".

Affirmative sentence Negative sentence Negative question
It is time to leave. It is not time to leave.
It's not time to leave.
Is it not time to leave?
Isn't it time to leave?
He got here at 6 am. He did not get here at 6 am
He didn't get here at 6 am.
Did he not get here at 6 am?
Didn't he get here at 6 am?
You should call them. You should not call them
You shouldn't call them.
Should you not call them?
Shouldn't you call them?
Bill will leave the office late. Bill will not leave the office late.
Bill won't leave the office late.
Will Bill not leave the office late?
Won't Bill leave the office late?
Lesotho has to change its leaders. Lesotho does not have to change its leaders.
Lesotho doesn't have to change its leaders.
Does Lesotho not have to change its leaders?
Doesn't Lesotho have to change its leaders?

Video 1 Video 2 Music Quiz

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