Yet / Still : Use and Positions



As an adverb of time, the word yet is used primarily in negative sentences or in questions. It can appear at the end of the sentence, or it can follow the word not before the main verb in a negative sentence. It does not appear at the beginning of the sentence (except when it functions as a conjunction, rather than an adverb). Here are some examples:

  • “He hasn’t gone to the doctor yet.”
  • “We have not yet sold our house.”
  • Have you finished your homework yet?”

However, yet can also be used after auxiliary verbs and before the main verb in positive sentences to talk about a future possibility, as in:

  • “I have yet to decide whether I’m leaving.”
  • “They may yet file for bankruptcy.”
  • “Things could yet improve in the region.”
  • “We might yet be able to strike a deal with them.”

The adverb of time still is used to describe something that is continuously happening. Still comes before the main verb of the sentence in questions, if used before not in negative sentences, or if used after auxiliary verbs in positive sentences about the future:

  • “Are you still working on that project?”
  • “He’s still not sure about how to proceed.”
  • “I am still thinking about moving to Europe.”

The adverb still can also be used with the modal auxiliary verbs may, might, can, and could to describe something that was a possibility in the past, and which could possibly happen in the future. In this case, it has the same meaning as yet, and the two are all but interchangeable (though yet sounds a little bit more formal). Here are the same sentences we looked at with yet, but this time using still instead:

  • “They may still file for bankruptcy.”
  • “Things could still improve in the region.”
  • “We might still be able to strike a deal with them.”
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