A negative question is just what it sounds like: A question in negative form.
You can ask lots of questions.
- Was she home?
- Did he do that?
- Is her name Mary?
The negative versions of those questions have a negative word: "not"
- Was she not home?
- Did he not do that?
- Is her name not Mary?
You can also use contractions in your negative questions. When you use contractions, your questions tend to be less formal.
- Wasn't she home?
- Didn't he do that?
- Isn't her name Mary?
So why would you use a negative question? Let's think about it.
- You texted your friend, Jane, but she didn't answer. You're afraid she's mad at you. You anxiously ask her brother, Pete, "Was she home last night?" You are very relieved to find out that Jane left her phone at home when she went to work and didn't get your text. She was so tired she went straight to bed and hasn't woken up yet!
- Jane told you she would meet you online to play World of Warcraft, but never came to the raid you painstakingly set up. You just knew she'd be there to help out. You talk to Pete the next morning and find out she had to go run an errand for her dad. You say to Pete "She wasn't home?" It makes you feel better to know she didn't leave you hanging.
- Now picture Jane's mother talking to Pete and finding out Jane didn't do the dishes. Jane was supposed to come home directly after school to do chores. "Was she not at home?" Jane's mother might exclaim in surprise and anger.
Now take these positive questions and turn them into negative questions using contractions. Do the same thing without contractions:
- Is it true?
- Do you have a phone?
- Was it time?
Now you know about negative questions! If you have any more questions, please ask and I'll be glad to help.