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Method 1: wasn't/weren't + subject + verb(ing) + object?

Method 2: was/were + subject + not + verb(ing) + object ?

Which method correct in past continuous tense ~ negative interrogative form? Or both are correct?

Example: A). Wasn't she crying? Or B). Was she not crying?

Please explain this..

  • 2
    Both are correct. The difference depends on whether the negative is to be contracted with the auxiliary verb (normally it is in colloquial speech). If it's not, it's unusual and therefore must be for a reason, and there are several possible reasons: the speaker may think it's more formal to do that (it is rather stuffy), or the speaker may wish to emphasize the negative constituent not crying. – John Lawler Aug 1 '14 at 15:46
  • BTW - What is not often said by native English speakers is this: Was not she crying? I have heard non-native speakers say that. IOW, even though wasn't is a contraction of was not, people do not ask the question Was not..? – Drew Aug 2 '14 at 19:17
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Both are correct. The difference depends on whether the negative is to be contracted with the auxiliary verb (normally it is in colloquial speech). If it's not, it's unusual and therefore must be for a reason, and there are several possible reasons: the speaker may think it's more formal to do that (it is rather stuffy), or the speaker may wish to emphasize the negative constituent not crying. – John Lawler

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