Imagine this, my baby brother was making annoying weird noise to irritate me, so I'd tell him

"Can you NOT do that!" {But here I can't say "CAN'T you do that!"}

Now,imagine my big brother was making me to go to the store just after I entered the house from school,so I'd tell him

"CAN'T you do that!" {But here I can't say "Can you NOT do that!"}

But the grammar rules state that if "not" isn't contracted then it must come after the subject but in these cases it obviously makes notable difference. What are the present rules to this and what should I generally use in modern times? Also I have seen this in archaic/older English, what were the older grammar rules when it came to negatives?

  • 1
    Can you not do that? (with slight emphasis on the subject) works fine in the UK, sorry to muddle the issue. Apr 11, 2020 at 3:55
  • 1
    Can you not do that? It is like Can you stop/ avoid/ refrain from doing that. Can't you do that is like - Can't you...? Why can't you....? Context and intonation make the difference.
    – Ram Pillai
    Apr 11, 2020 at 4:11
  • If you are asking your brother why he can't go to the store for himself, you need to end with a question mark, not an exclamation mark. Apr 11, 2020 at 8:06


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