Possible Duplicate:
Is “Don't you know? ” the same as “Do not you know?”?

"Why don't you like?" seems commonly used, but I never hear "Why do not you like?"

  • Are they both acceptable forms?
  • How can one best remove the contraction from "Why don't you like?"
  • Are there any other similar situations where a sentence with a contraction or without changes from being good to unacceptable English?
  • 1
    I'd say "Why do you not like ___ ?" to remove the contraction. The first quote is fine. Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 12:12
  • 2
    @MattЭллен, while I agree that this is a duplicate, I don't think any of the existing answers is very good - none of them explain what is going on from a grammatical standpoint. (Which is just to say, if anyone is reading this and thinking that "duplicate" == "already answered", that's not necessarily true.)
    – Marthaª
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 14:20
  • 2
    Please get these questions merged if they get closed... Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 14:42

5 Answers 5


Questions in English are generally formed by inverting the subject and verb. Let's apply this to the following sentences:

You do not like peanut butter.
Do you not like peanut butter?


You don't like peanut butter.
Don't you like peanut butter?

The question:

Do not you like peanut butter?

isn't allowed, because you would have to treat "do not" as an inseparable combination in the inversion, and in standard modern English grammar, it's not; however, "don't" is.

If you ask: what is "Don't you like ..." a contraction for, I think the only reasonable answer is "Do you not like ...", but I don't believe that's the way it originated syntactically.

Google Ngrams shows that "Why do not you ..." was used in the past, but it also seems to show (not that it can be trusted in the 1600s) that "Why don't you ..." was used earlier, so I suspect that "Why do not you like" started as an uncontraction of "Why don't you like" ... people knew that they would say "Why don't you like", but they also knew that you shouldn't use contractions in formal writing, so they expanded it.


Why exactly is the Do not you... construct not used?

The reason the Why do not you like ...? construct is not used is because not would negate you while you are intending to negate like. This is why we use Why do you not like ...? instead.

You can see don't as a negation to do, rather than seeing it as a replacement of do not.

Another example expansion:

Don't you have time for me?

  • Bad: Do not you have time for me?

  • Good: Do you not have time for me?

  • Even better: Do you have no time for me?

Do or do not. There is no try. ~ Yoda


Constructions such as Why do not you like . . .? are no longer used. You can say Why do you not like . . .? but it's rather formal.


"Why do not you like..." is not used. The full wording would be "Why do you not like..." . Since it's more common to shorten "do not" to "don't", it feels better to do that also here, but the the phrase "do you not" doesn't have a short form, so the closest is to put "you" after "don't".


Do you not like ... is also a viable option, and I agree with Barrie, Why do you not like ... is quite formal. A sentence with a contraction is acceptable in casual speech, however in a legal document or a research paper, or any other place where the use of formal language is required, contractions may be frowned upon or outright banned.

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