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οὐ μή with future indicative in interrogative main clause: strong prohibition


ποῖος Ζεύς; οὐ μὴ ληρήσεις; οὐδ’ ἔστι Ζεύς.

‘What do you mean, Zeus? Don't talk nonsense! Zeus doesn't exist.’ (Aristoph. Cl. 367)

The future indicative (second person) in an interrogative main clause, preceded by οὐ μή, signals a strong prohibition.

Translation tips

Although the usual translation involves the imperative mood, an English interrogative clause can also have imperative or prohibitive force: Will you be quiet?

Syntactic usage

After a prohibition with οὐ μή and a fut. ind. a commanding fut. ind. may follow, connected to the prohibition by ἀλλά or δέ.


This construction is typical of dramatic writers.


Rarely an aorist subjunctive is used. Many editors replace this with a future indicative. Most grammarians regard these sentences as interrogative sentences, although of course there is no evidence for this from the manuscripts. The ancients did not write question marks. This is why Goodwin chooses not to use a question mark.

Example Sentences: 

οὐ μὴ λαλήσεις, ἀλλ’ ἀκολουθήσεις ἐμοί

Do not babble, but follow me. [provisional translation]

ὦ δεινὰ λέξασ᾽, οὐχὶ συγκλῄσεις στόμα

καὶ μὴ μεθήσεις αὖθις αἰσχίστους λόγους;

You have said terrible things. Will you not shut your mouth? Stop saying these most shameful words immediately!

οὐ μὴ ’ξεγερεῖς τὸν ὕπνῳ κάτοχον

κἀκκινήσεις κἀναστήσεις

φοιτάδα δεινὴν

οὐ μὴ φρενώσεις μ’, ἀλλὰ δέσμιος φυγὼν σῴσῃ τόδ’;

Do not give me orders, but relish this, now that you have escaped prison. ֍