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    #1

    Partial negation?

    "He's not going to study all day."

    Does this sentence mean he studies part of the day (maybe one hour or so, but not from morning till sunset)?
    or
    Does this sentence mean that he's not going to studay at all?

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    #2

    Re: Partial negation?

    Not a teacher.

    I read it that he will study some today, but not all day long.

    If it was meant that he was not going to study at all, it would probably be worded like "he's not going to study today."

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Partial negation?

    Interesting. I read it the same way as Dave, but there is ambiguity.

    For example, given that we are in the season of fasting for many members, if it had read "He's not going to eat all day," we would have probably first inferred that throughout the day, there will be no eating, instead of he will eat for some of the day, but not the entire day.

    You can't say for sure what the author intended, whether it was no studying at all at any point in the day, or not spending the entire day studying.
    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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    #4

    Re: Partial negation?

    Ambiguous, I agree. Stick a question mark on the end, and the meaning shifts again.

    "He's not going to study all day?" Incredulity. (Is there such a word?)

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    #5

    Re: Partial negation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedroski View Post
    Incredulity. (Is there such a word?)
    You bet there is. And it happens to be one I'm really bad at pronouncing.

    I suppose if you added an ! instead of a . it would change it again.
    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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    #6

    Re: Partial negation?

    Thank you everyone.

    Although it may depend on the situation,
    I feel "I'm not going to drink all night." means that I am going to drink but I am not going to drink continuously until the morning comes,"
    while "I'm not going to eat all night." means that I am not going to eat at all until the morning comes."

    Am I correct?

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    #7

    Re: Partial negation?

    I think a lot of the meaning in such an ambiguous sentence depends on the emphasis given when it is spoken.

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    #8

    Re: Partial negation?

    Quote Originally Posted by Snappy View Post
    Thank you everyone.

    Although it may depend on the situation,
    I feel "I'm not going to drink all night." means that I am going to drink but I am not going to drink continuously until the morning comes,"
    while "I'm not going to eat all night." means that I am not going to eat at all until the morning comes."

    Am I correct?
    I think the same ambiguity applies. If you said "I'm not going to drink all night" and stressed the word "all", I would think you meant that you would drink for part of the night but then you would stop. If you simply said "I'm not going to drink - all night", with a pause, I would think you meant that you were planning to have no drinks at all.

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