Negating Yes or No Questions


A yes/no question is only negated when the speaker has an expectation of the answer. Therefore, it often carries an annoyed or concerned tone.

  • Isn’t he happy? (I assumed he was happy.)
  • Aren’t we late? (I wanted to get there on time.)

Notice that ‘not’ is contracted to the verb which takes the first position in the sentence.

  • Is he not happy? — Isn’t he happy?