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I apologize if this is a duplicate or anything for that matter but I didn't locate any questions on it.

I have this phrase I wrote and it is confusing me a little bit.

An OAHU Agent can help at no extra cost to you! Wouldn't you want an extra layer of protection during this very confusing time?


Wouldn't breaks down to would not if I am correct and which can also be written as in:

Would not you want an extra layer of protection during this very confusing time?

That just doesn't make sense to me. I know I am not an expert in English language, but it does sound right as wouldn't.

Any ideas? Am I using it wrong all together?

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    Wouldn't is indeed short for would not, as in Would you not want… It is simply a rhetorical question, meant to express Of course you want extra protection.
    – choster
    Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 22:37
  • The way I currently have it, would this be a good option then? Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 4:31

3 Answers 3

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Using Modal Verbs

c. Negative questions

To form a negative question, the first auxiliary is placed before the subject, and the word not is placed after the subject. However, when contractions are used, the contracted form of not follows immediately after the auxiliary. For example:

Without Contractions .............................. With Contractions

Can she not work? ........................................... Can't she work?

Would he not be working?.......................... Wouldn't he be working?

Should they not have worked?................ Shouldn't they have worked?

Could I not have been working?........... Couldn't I have been working?

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"Would not you want an extra layer of protection during this very confusing time?"

I don't know whether or not this is technically correct, but you will never find it in modern English. It sounds antiquated.

"Wouldn't you want an extra layer of protection during this very confusing time?"

This is much closer, but it could still do with some revision. As it stands, this isn't really a complete question. It would be better to flesh it out with a few more words, for instance:

"Why wouldn't you want an extra layer of protection during this very confusing time?"

Or something along those lines.

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  • Fantastic! The last one does sound so much better but the middle one I first wrote is actually semi correct? It just doesn't make any sense if you brake it apart. Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 21:32
  • @JoshPowell I don't know if it's technically correct, but I often hear sentences with that structure in everyday conversation. You're certainly right that it doesn't make sense when you break it apart. Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 21:34
  • Hmm very interesting, it must just be an accepted slang I suppose but very interesting none the less! Commented Nov 12, 2013 at 21:37
  • The one place where I have seen constructions of the form "Would not they have done X" is in letters to the editor, where the writer is trying to sound formal (hence, no contractions) and back-transforms "wouldn't" (or some similar contraction) in place, without reordering it appropriately, as Edwin Ashworth demonstrates in his answer. The problem for these letter-to-the-editor writers comes down to not knowing what sounds right once the natural contracted form that they normally use is off the table.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 4:42
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Either "Would you not want" or "wouldn't you want"--choose.

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