I live in the UK and I mostly hear people saying Don't you..., but some people say: Do you not...? What is the difference and which one is more correct?

You can put any example really. Something like:

Do you not like to come to school with me?
Don't you like to come to school with me?

  • In speech, negative interrogative contractions are fine. The other is only for emphasis: Do you really not like toast?
    – Lambie
    Jan 31, 2023 at 22:41

4 Answers 4


Both are correct. What was originally just a contraction of "do not" has become a word in itself, and can now be placed where the two separate words can't.

Both "Don't you..." and "Do you not..." are correct, but you can't re-expand "Don't you..." into "Do not you...".

The meaning of the two are the same, but "Do you not..." is considered more formal in some situations.

  • 1
    But I remember in a workshop about writing in academia, they said I should avoid using contracted forms. Does that mean that "Don't" would be incorrect in papers, or this is a special case?
    – Promather
    Jan 10, 2011 at 12:35
  • 3
    Do not you is used in poetic language all the time. "But wherefore do not you a mightier way / Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time?" — Shakespeare, Sonnet 16
    – Robusto
    Jan 10, 2011 at 12:45
  • 3
    In "standard" spoken English, "Don't you" is more common, and "do you not" sounds very formal. But in some UK dialects "do you not" is the more common form (and not considered formal).
    – psmears
    Jan 10, 2011 at 13:45
  • 1
    @Rafid K. Abdullah: That depends on what you are writing. A scientific paper for example is quite formal, so contractions would usually look out of place there.
    – Guffa
    Jan 10, 2011 at 13:51
  • My sense is that American English prefers "don't" and "do you not" is a speech act with a peculiar meaning: "I am now interrogating and instructing you" in a Socratic fashion. On the other hand, "do you not" is fairly common Canadian usage with raising intonation on the 'not.'
    – The Raven
    Mar 6, 2011 at 13:24

"Don't you like to come to school with me?" is a negative imperative sentence. It implies: "You want to come with me. Don't you?"

"Do you not like to come with me?" is more of a question either the audience wants to come with you or what ... I'm not sure about this one.


This is simple present tense and an interrogative sentence.

Grammatically correct sentence structure for this is - (Do or Does + Subject + not + Verb + ...?).

Therefore, "Don't you?" has been considered as informal as well as incorrect.

And "Do you not?" is totally correct.


"Do you not" is a self contradiction. It is the same as saying "do you" and "but you don't". It is completely redundant verbosity, which is a very common notion in British English vocabulary.

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