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Which Is Correct: Not Yet or Yet Not?

“Not yet” is a motto for procrastinators all over the world. You know you’re supposed to finish something, but when someone asks you about it, your response is always, “Not yet.”

“Not yet” is correct. It functions as a stand-alone phrase or a short sentence. By itself, “yet not” cannot function as a grammatically correct phrase. However, there are some sentence structures where “yet” precedes “not” and is still acceptable. In this case, there are usually other words between the two that make it grammatically accurate.

“Not yet,” is a phrase that is full of hope. Just because you haven’t done something yet, does not mean that you will never do it. To understand the meaning of “not yet” and when you can use “yet” and “not” together, read on.

What Does “Not Yet” Mean?

“Not yet” is an adverb of time. It indicates that something has not happened until that point in time but will happen in the future (source). It is a response to a question about whether something has occurred.

Example sentences:

  • Q: Have you done your homework? 
  • A: Not yet.
  • Q: Did you call Sarah about her interview? 
  • A: Not yet, but I will first thing in the morning.
  • Q: Have you washed the dishes yet? 
  • A: Nope, not yet.

The phrase “not yet” can stand alone, or it can be part of a longer statement. It informs others about the status of a situation or event. You can also create a contraction for an informal tone.

Example sentences:

  • We have not yet found the right person for this position.
  • I have not yet asked her if she wants to go to dinner.
  • Anthony hasn’t yet asked Kate to marry him.

“Not” is a negative word that you’ll often see after auxiliary verbs (source). The word separates and negates a part of the sentence, such as “I told him not to do that.” Finally, you can also use it directly after verbs to indicate that something has not happened.

“Yet” is an adverb that you can use to convey that something hasn’t happened until this moment in time (source). It is most often accompanied by “not” in some form. 

It also has a comparative meaning. For example, “This is the best chocolate cake I have had yet.” This sentence indicates that there is a possibility that there may be a better chocolate cake in the future.

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“Not Yet” or “Yet Not”?

You can use “not yet” as a short sentence, and it does make sense on its own, but “yet not” requires some addition to become grammatically correct. Therefore, in direct comparison, “not yet” is the only logical form of the phrase.

Not Yet

“Not yet” also makes sense if you add other words for more information. In the following example, the verbs (in red) along with the preposition (in orange) and the object of the preposition or direct object (in green) can also appear after “not yet” and make sense. 

Example sentences:

I have not heard from her yet.I have not yet heard from her.
The students have not finished their homework yet.The students have not yet finished their homework.
Sally and Mellisa have not returned from the party yet.Sally and Melissa have not yet returned from the party.

When the rest of the sentence appears after “not yet,” the tone of the sentence changes despite the meaning remaining the same. The sentence becomes more formal. 

Yet Not

However, to use “yet not” correctly, you need additional information and context. In this context, you’ll have to use “yet” as a conjunction. It functions similarly to “but” and “nevertheless.”

Example sentences:

  • I’m wearing shorts, yet I’m not cold.
  • I love the sun, yet I do not hate this soft rain.
  • He always gets good marks, yet Mark is not optimistic about his finals.

To have “yet” precede “not,” another clause (including the addition of pronouns or nouns) is necessary for your sentence to make sense, as you can see from the example above. Therefore, “yet not” will usually be incorrect in that form, but you can use the phrase in a sentence, keeping the words in that order.

There are a few examples where “yet not” stands alone as one phrase, but you’ll need a comma preceding the phrase for it to make sense, even in that case.

Example sentences:

  • You can turn everyone against you, yet not your mother.
  • I made my sister do it, yet not my brother.

As you can see in the examples, these sentences are quite clunky, and you can easily write them more logically by replacing “yet” with the conjunction “but.”

Is It “Not yet Started” or “Not Started Yet”?

Both phrases above are correct, but the text type and audience will decide which one is more appropriate. As we mentioned earlier, using “not yet” followed by the verb makes a sentence a lot more formal than splitting the phrase with the verb.

Example sentences:

  • They told me that the party had not yet started.
  • They told me that the party had not started yet.
  • I have not yet finished my homework.
  • I have not finished my homework yet.

All of these sentences have the same meaning. The main difference has to do with tone and formality rather than meaning.

In the sentences where “not yet” appears together, the tone is more formal, and such sentences would be more appropriate when speaking or writing for an older audience. 

However, that does not mean that “not,” followed by the subject or verb and ending with “yet,” is informal. On the contrary, the sentence is still functional in a formal setting and is more a matter of preference.

“Did Not Started” or “Did Not Start”?

In contrast, there is a correct answer when comparing the phrase “did not started” to “did not start.” “Did not started” is grammatically incorrect.

“Started” is the past tense and past participle form of “start.” “Start” means to begin something. Thus, “started” means that the action has already begun or took place in the past.

Example sentences:

  • You did not start your homework yet, did you?
  • You did not start your engine correctly.
  • He didn’t start the race as he overslept.

In the previous examples, “did not start” is correct. 

To understand why “did not started” is incorrect, we need to break down the parts of speech in the sentence. To begin with, the word “did” is the past tense verb form of “do,” which indicates that you completed something previously. It marks the performance of an action. 

“Started” as a Past Participle

You might think that “started” and “did” should appear in the same sentence since they are both in the past tense. However, the past participle verb that you should use with “started” is “had.”

If you are struggling with understanding the perfect past tense, look no further. Read “Can We Use Yesterday with Past Perfect?” to know when past perfect tense is appropriate.

Example sentences:

  • She had started the car.
  • They had not started their project, so they got an F.
  • Jake had not started the coffee machine that morning.

By using “had” with “started,” the sentence is grammatically accurate. In contrast, we should combine “did” with “start” to be correct. 

There are a few instances where “did” can precede “started,” but it needs particular conditions to be accurate. For example, if you wish to write in the passive voice, the verb “get” and the past participle will provide a grammatically correct sentence.

Example sentences:

  • When did the party get started?
  • Please tell me that they did not get started without me.
  • It’s always challenging to get started in a new career field.

As you can see in the previous sentences, “get” has to precede “started” for your sentence to make sense and be correct. 

“Started” as Past Tense

“Started” as a past tense form is only correct in the simple past tense.

Example sentences:

  • I started the car before you got here.
  • She started when I entered the room, dropping her phone in shock.
  • Mark started to run after his friends.

Essentially, “did” cannot immediately precede “started.” That is grammatically incorrect. However, if “get” is between the two words, your sentence will make sense.

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For Those Who Have Not Submitted Yet

The above heading is one of the worst phrases to hear from a boss, teacher, or lecturer. You open up your email and see a sentence that includes “For those who have not submitted yet.” It’s a blatant reminder that you should have done something and haven’t completed it yet.

But within the context of English grammar, this is another sentence where you use the verb to split “not” and “yet.” The main question is why this is the case and whether it changes the meaning at all.

As discussed earlier, you can use “not yet” together as a single phrase or split it with other words or phrases. This does not generally change in meaning. In keeping with the same example, you could also write, “For those who have not yet submitted.”

When writing a sentence that splits “not” and “yet,” it’s vital to understand which parts of speech are required between them to make the sentence grammatically accurate. 

On the most basic level, you’ll require a verb between “not” and “yet.” However, you can also add pronouns, direct and indirect objects, and prepositions as needed. 

Example sentences:

  • I have not made that call yet.
  • Daphne hasn’t broken up with Simon yet.
  • Padgette has not told Cameron the truth about the bet yet.

Another point where you may have to discuss the usage of a verb after “not” is in the article “Including but not Limited to: Meaning, Punctuation, and Usage.” This should help you break down the phrase and its correct usage. 

The most vital aspect of ensuring your sentence is correct is to include the verb directly after “not.” As “not” is a negation of something, it requires that something is happening to inform your reader that you are not completing that action.

Synonyms for “Not Yet”

“Not yet” means that an event or task has not happened or you did not complete the task until this moment in time. If you find the phrase a little complicated or repetitive, there are some other phrases that you can use instead.

It is difficult to find a synonym for the adverb “not.” Therefore, the bulk of synonyms for “not yet” will focus on “yet.”

“Not thus far” is a synonym that you can use for “not yet.” You can use this phrase to indicate an event or action that has not taken place yet. “Thus far” also has some space for changing the syntax of the sentence.

Example sentences:

  • She has not bought her dress yet.
  • She has not bought her dress thus far.
  • Thus far, she has not bought her dress.

Another synonym for “not yet” can be “not at this time.” You can also change the syntax as you require.

Example sentences:

  • I have not applied for college yet.
  • At this time, I still haven’t applied to any colleges.
  • I have not applied to any colleges at this time.

Finally, “not now” is a somewhat appropriate synonym. However, you can only use it when you intend “not yet” to negate something taking place or not give permission to do something. 

Example sentences:

  • Q: Can I open my eyes? 
  • A: Not yet.
  • Q: Can I open my eyes? 
  • A: Not now.

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The distinction of this synonym is that it only indicates an event cannot take place at the current moment in time. In contrast, “not yet” suggests that while the event cannot take place now, it can occur in the future.

Final Thoughts

Now that you understand that “not yet” is the correct phrase, you can remind people that even when they have not completed something, that does not mean that they will never do it. “Not yet” is indicative of a growth mindset and our ability to learn from our mistakes.

“Yet not” will almost never be the correct form, but there are situations when it can work, as long as the purpose of “yet” is as a conjunction and not as an adverb of time.