I’ve asked a similar question about ‘wonder if’ before, but I’ll give it a second try to learn more about a difference in nuance between a negative clause and a positive one.
Just look at these examples.
He snapped it shut again, worried that the sound would attract Filch, wondering whether that hadn’t been Cedric’s plan – (Harry Potter 4 [US Version]: p.461)
See if she can’t break the habit of writing horrible lies about people. (Harry Potter 4 [US Version]: p.728).
I’m vaguely thinking in the above cases, wonder whether and see if are figures of speech, and those sentences have other meanings, for example, like this.
If Cedric were here, I would like to say to him, “That hasn’t been your plan, hasn’t it?” (hopefully)
If she were here, I would like to say to her, “You can break the habit, can you?” (peremptorily)
Also, I’m thinking positive ones have no such meanings, kind of neutral.
I might be reading too much, but I have a reason to become sensitive to negatives. (Does the sentence of “Don’t you …?” have a connotation of accusation?)
Let me get it straight. Here are my questions.
1. What’s the difference between a positive and a negative in wonder/see if clauses?
2. Is it determined by the form or by the context? (I’m asking this one because both of my examples have a similar context that the speakers have a bone to pick with him or her.)
3. Does the same go for other verbs, for example, ask, doubt, know, tell, and be not sure?
I’d be happy if you could help me!