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  1. #1
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    Default second verb in negative

    "promise to not run away" or "promise not to run away"? Please explain the rules of similar verbs. Thanks

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    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: second verb in negative

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    "promise to not run away" or "promise not to run away"? Please explain the rules of similar verbs. Thanks
    Ah, we come to the toughy subject of split infinitives. The idea that you should not split an infinitive is fast fading but I would say that it is still more natural with negatives not to split the infinitive so 'not to' rather than 'to not' - complete coincidence (I think?) but I've just noticed that this very sentence contains an example of an unsplit infinitive in the negative and I don't think I'd be tempted to write 'to not split the infinitive'! But in informal speech, I'm sure even in the negative the infinitive is often split, so possibly 'not to' in formal English, but either in informal English.
    Last edited by bertietheblue; 24-May-2010 at 00:53.

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    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is online now Moderator
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    Default Re: second verb in negative

    Another thread -- which I can't find now -- had this link:
    BBC News | UK | 'To boldly go' gets green light

    I enjoyed it.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: second verb in negative

    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    Ah, we come to the toughy subject of split infinitives. The idea that you should not split an infinitive is fast fading but I would say that it is still more natural with negatives not to split the infinitive so 'not to' rather than 'to not' - complete coincidence (I think?) but I've just noticed that this very sentence contains an example of an unsplit infinitive in the negative and I don't think I'd be tempted to write 'to not split the infinitive'! But in informal speech, I'm sure even in the negative the infinitive is often split, so possibly 'not to' in formal English, but either in informal English.
    The text in red is from an earlier thread; that part of the thread relates to this thread.
    I think that not only is splitting infinitives acceptable, sometimes it is the (most) direct and correct way to clearly state your meaning.

    I did it not to become poor, but to follow my dream. (I did it to follow my dream, but I became poor as a result.)

    I did it (in ordrer) to not become poor. (I did it to prevent myself from becoming poor.)

    So the 'not to' and 'to not' grammars are both legitimate but have different meanings. (at least different emphases)

    (What do you promise to do?)
    I promise to not run away. (This sounds better to me than 'I promise not to run away.')

    I don't think it's a matter of formal/informal or British/American English. I think it's a matter of precise grammar.

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    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: second verb in negative

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    The text in red is from an earlier thread; that part of the thread relates to this thread.
    I think that not only is splitting infinitives acceptable, sometimes it is the (most) direct and correct way to clearly state your meaning.

    I did it not to become poor, but to follow my dream. (I did it to follow my dream, but I became poor as a result.)
    I did it (in ordrer) to not become poor. (I did it to prevent myself from becoming poor.)OR 'I did it so as not to become poor'

    So the 'not to' and 'to not' grammars are both legitimate but have different meanings. (at least different emphases)

    (What do you promise to do?)
    I promise to not run away. (This sounds better to me than 'I promise not to run away.')

    I don't think it's a matter of formal/informal or British/American English. I think it's a matter of precise grammar.
    I don't think it has anything to do with precise grammar. I think a good general principle, certainly in formal writing, is don't split the infinitive in the negative unless the context makes splitting preferable (which slightly adapts what I said earlier and allows for your tendentious use of the split), at least in GBEng.

    'I promise not to run away' is preferable to 'I promise to not run away'

    Also, you could never say 'to not' in an answer with the infinitive dropped

    'Are you going to run away again?'
    'No, I promise not to.'

    I'm busy now but I'll come back to this later. Any other views out there?

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    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: second verb in negative

    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    I don't think it has anything to do with precise grammar. But if you look at it look at it from a grammatic/semantic point of view, the split infinitive can be more precise, as in my examples. To me, that seems to be clearly so. I think a good general principle, certainly in formal writing, is don't split the infinitive in the negative unless the context makes splitting preferable That's what I'm saying. (which slightly adapts what I said earlier and allows for your tendentious use of the split), at least in GBEng.
    Bias can apply both ways.

    Anyway, you did say that the feeling against split infinitives is fading, and I am suggesting that there may be good reason for that.
    2006
    Last edited by 2006; 24-May-2010 at 19:25. Reason: change "is" to 'can be'

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    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: second verb in negative

    2006

    On the one hand, you're saying the split inifinitive is more precise; on the other ('that's what I'm saying') you're agreeing that you shouldn't split the infinitive unless the context makes this preferable. So, which is it?

    Anyway, I'm coming back to this post. The unsplit infinitive still has a last stand to fight!

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    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: second verb in negative

    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    2006

    On the one hand, you're saying the split inifinitive is more precise; on the other ('that's what I'm saying') you're agreeing that you shouldn't split the infinitive unless the context makes this preferable. So, which is it?

    Anyway, I'm coming back to this post. The unsplit infinitive still has a last stand to fight!
    Maybe I didn't write it carefully enough.
    But obviously I am not saying that the infinitive should always be split. One red sentence has a split infinitive and one doesn't. I am saying that sometimes splitting the infinitive makes sense.

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    bertietheblue is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: second verb in negative

    I said I'd come back to the split infinitive in negations. I'm confident academic sources will back up my stance but we'll see. I'll come back to this later but for now, wikipedia will have to do:

    "Splitting infinitives with negations remains an area of contention:
    I want to not see you anymore. I soon learned to not provoke her. Even those who are generally tolerant of split infinitives may draw the line at these.[10] This appears to be because the traditional idiom, placing the negation before the marker (I soon learned not to provoke her) or with verbs of desire, negating the finite verb (I don't want to see you anymore) remains easy and natural, and is still overwhelmingly the more common construction, even if some might argue that there are circumstances in which it carries a slightly different meaning."

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    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: second verb in negative

    Quote Originally Posted by bertietheblue View Post
    I said I'd come back to the split infinitive in negations. I'm confident academic sources will back up my stance but we'll see. I'll come back to this later but for now, wikipedia will have to do:

    "Splitting infinitives with negations remains an area of contention: I'll take that to mean that there is disagreement about that. I want to not see you anymore. I soon learned to not provoke her. Even those who are generally tolerant of split infinitives may draw the line at these.[10] This appears to be because the traditional idiom, placing the negation before the marker (I soon learned not to provoke her) or with verbs of desire, negating the finite verb (I don't want to see you anymore) remains easy and natural, and is still overwhelmingly the more common construction, even if some might argue that there are circumstances in which it carries a slightly different meaning."
    maybe not so slightly
    Your links didn't work.
    Anyway, it doesn't seem that I am the only one defending the splitting of infinitives. And I don't think that negations are a special case. In fact, just off the top of my head, I think that negation is a likely situation in which infinitives could be split.

    Perhaps most importantly, I think that the logic of the red sentences speaks for itself. I am not at all inclined to back off from splitting infinitives.

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