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  1. #1
    crazYgeeK is offline Member
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    What is the difference between deny, refuse and decline?

    Could you please help me differentiate them to use correctly in sentences?
    Thank you so much!

  2. #2
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    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Re: What is the difference between deny, refuse and decline?

    Have you tried using a dictionary?

    If you do that, and then produce sentences of your own, we can comment on them.

  3. #3
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: What is the difference between deny, refuse and decline?

    Quote Originally Posted by crazYgeeK View Post
    Could you please help me differentiate them to use correctly in sentences?
    Thank you so much!

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    (1) The teacher has suggested that you first check a dictionary, but I

    think that the teacher will allow me to make this observation:

    For many native speakers, "decline" is much "softer" and "more gentle"

    than "refuse."

    (2) Worker: Excuse me, have you told the boss that I wish to

    speak with her?

    Boss's secretary: Oh, yes. I am very sorry, but Ms. Jones declines

    to see you at this time.

    ("Ms. Jones refuses to see you" sounds very harsh and almost cruel.

    By using "declines," it gives the idea that maybe Ms. Jones will speak

    with the worker at a later date -- even if she will not.)

  4. #4
    crazYgeeK is offline Member
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    Re: What is the difference between deny, refuse and decline?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    Have you tried using a dictionary?

    If you do that, and then produce sentences of your own, we can comment on them.
    It is a pity that my dictionary can't help me realize the difference between these words, and with looking them up, I think they are the same.
    My sentences here:
    I declined to tell her the secret.
    I refused to tell her the secret.
    I denied to tell her the secret.
    As TheParser's help, I can see using "decline" is more softly to listeners, but what about the two other words?
    Thank you so much!

  5. #5
    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Re: What is the difference between deny, refuse and decline?

    When you deny something, you're saying that it's not true.

    I deny that I believe in magic penguins (even though I probably do). You cannot substitute refuse or decline here.
    I deny that I cheated on the exam (even though I did). You cannot substitute refuse or decline.

    Deny can also mean not allowing someone have something or do something.

    I deny you entry into my office. Here you can rephrase the sentence with refuse. I refuse to allow you entry into my office.

  6. #6
    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Re: What is the difference between deny, refuse and decline?

    Quote Originally Posted by crazYgeeK View Post
    I declined to tell her the secret.
    I refused to tell her the secret.
    I denied to tell her the secret.
    You can deny knowing the secret. But you refuse/decline to tell it to someone.

  7. #7
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: What is the difference between deny, refuse and decline?

    Quote Originally Posted by crazYgeeK View Post
    It is a pity that my dictionary can't help me realize the difference between these words, and with looking them up, I think they are the same.
    My sentences here:
    I declined to tell her the secret.
    I refused to tell her the secret.
    I denied to tell her the secret.
    As TheParser's help, I can see using "decline" is more softly to listeners, but what about the two other words?
    Thank you so much!
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    (1) Like you, I am also a learner, so I understand how difficult

    English is.

    (2) Perhaps the most important point to remember is that

    some verbs such as deny do not take the infinitive:

    You can say "I deny doing (gerund) that," but not: I deny

    to do that." But you can say "I deny that I did that."

    There are many verbs that will not accept the infinitive

    Here are a few from Mesdames Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman's

    wonderful The Grammar Book: enjoy, avoid, risk, admit, finish, defend,

    etc. I am sure that you can find on the Web lists of verbs that take only

    the infinitive, that take only the gerund, and that take both ("I like

    eating ice cream"; "I like to eat ice cream").

    (3) In summary:

    (a) I refuse to answer your stupid question. Get out of here, you

    idiot!!!

    (b) I'm sorry, but I must decline to respond to your question. I'm

    not feeling too well.

    (c) [Remember that "deny" = something -- usually bad -- that has already happened.]

    (i) I strongly deny your accusation. (noun)

    (ii) I deny saying that to your father yesterday. (gerund phrase)

    (iii) I deny that I did that last month. (noun clause)

    P.S. Sometimes "deny" can be used in a "good" sense:

    Somebody sent me $1,000 so that I could get some medical help. I think that John Doe is the person who sent the money, but he denies it. (Because Mr. Doe likes to help people anonymously. He does not want
    people to know about his generosity.)

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