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I have long been puzzled by the usage of 'verb + not'. For example, Kennedy said, "... my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." The Bible states, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (Matthew 7:6 KJV).

I think 'verb + not' equals 'do not verb'. Is that so? Can anyone tell me grammatically? Is 'verb + not' only used orally? Is it a formal expression or not?

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possible duplicate of Why use "need not" instead of "do not need to"? –  MετάEd Feb 6 '13 at 7:42
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I don't think it's a duplicate; "You needn't shout" is perfectly ordinary usage; "Shout not" would be unusual. –  verbose Feb 6 '13 at 8:31

2 Answers 2

Yes, "verb + not" means the same as "do not + verb." But it is used only in highly formal diction, such as in poetry or oratory. The construction would be very out of place in everyday usage.

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It is a stylistic device that puts emphasis on the verb and makes the reader/listener focus in on the statement. It is used in both spoken and written English, but that construction is mainly a rhetorical device for formal speeches and academic/analytical writing.

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