I've found the following constructions with past verbs:

They found not the fire.

You knew not that.

Is this an archaic way?

Can we use with "ED" ending verbs, "crossed not the line" or just with irregular verbs?

  • 4
    Yes, this is an archaic way. Nobody talks that way any more, even though they have a Greek word for it. Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 21:35
  • 1
    Correct. You ought not speak this way these days.
    – IchabodE
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 22:24
  • 2
    It was not restricted to past verbs. It sed to be the normal way of negating all verbs: "They go not". We still use it with modal verbs: "I will not"; "They would not"; "You ought not to ... ".
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 0:23

1 Answer 1


Those are examples of anastrophe, the departure from normal word order for the sake of emphasis. It does sound somewhat archaic because this figure of speech is not used as often as it once was. You'll find it a lot in Shakespeare's writing, for example, and in modern fiction that it attempting to sound "Shakespearean."

It can be used with regular verbs as well as irregular ones. Take, for example, John F. Kennedy's famous quote: "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

  • 2
    +1 Just to add, you would use this construction in poetry or in speeches or other places where emphasis is needed, but it's not used in everyday speech.
    – Mynamite
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 21:35
  • 4
    In Shakespeare's day it was not anastrophic, but was normal word order.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 0:22
  • What was prefered, using DO and DID or these forms? "Do you ask to him?" may be replaced by "Ask you to him?"
    – Apprentice
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 13:08

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