When asking a question in English, it's common to use the contraction "don't" or "aren't." At the same time, though, you can also use "do not" and "are not"

For example, you can say "Aren't you coming to the party?" and you can say "Are you not coming to the party?" However, it seems like these two sentences are not conveying the same meaning when contracted vs. not being contracted. So, is there a semantical difference between contracting or not contracting, and why is there a difference if they're the same words?

Another example may be "Don't you like peanuts?" and "Do you not like peanuts?"

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    Does this answer your question? Using do not and don't (I do not think of it) // "Are you not coming to the party?" is either hifalutin' (ridiculously formal and stuffy) nowadays, or very emphatic and either irritable or astonished. // "Do you not like peanuts?" is far less stuffy, but again usually emphasising (conveying surprise). Pragmatic differences, not semantic. May 4, 2020 at 16:51
  • Isn't it different if you say "Are you not coming to the party?" because it seems that you're answer would be "yes" if you're not going, but if you say "aren't you coming to the party?" the answer would be "no" if you're not going.
    – Seeker
    May 4, 2020 at 16:56
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    No native speaker would answer "Yes" to "Are you not coming to the party?" when they meant "No, I'm not." Logic games and English usage are often dissimilar; ELU covers the latter. May 4, 2020 at 18:02
  • Typically, there is no semantic difference at all. However, there can be if the emphasis is put on the deliberate act of negating something. As opposed to merely rejecting the positive. Do you not like could be used to rule out ambivalence—implying an active dislike, as opposed to a simple don't you like which might include not having a preference. But that's extremely subtle, and such a distinction is almost never made. It's also entirely stylistic rather than grammatical (similar to putting not in bold or italics, which you can't do with a contraction). May 4, 2020 at 18:04
  • Although, when it comes to contractions, there is at least one actually grammatical (and semantic) difference. (1) "I can't do it": I am unable to do it. (2) "I can not do it": it is possible for me to refrain from doing it. May 4, 2020 at 18:15

1 Answer 1


The only difference is the tone. Contractions are informal (don’t, aren’t, etc .. )

This essay in Cambridge is quite inclusive on the subject.

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    I didn't - and why would anyone else - need to follow that link to accept what S Adam said. May 4, 2020 at 18:42

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