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    #1

    to negate with "not", here: Simple Past

    Hi forum!

    The police decided not to prosecute.

    Is it exactly the same to say: the police didn't decide to prosecute.
    the police didn't prosecute.

    At school you learn how to negate with "didn't". Somehow, nobody at school teaches the negation with "not" (my own experience; don't feel addressed).

    When do we use or prefer "not" over "didn't"?

    Thanks!

  1. charliedeut's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: to negate with "not", here: Simple Past

    Quote Originally Posted by virus99 View Post
    Hi forum!

    The police decided not to prosecute. They decided to let it pass (maybe because it was a minor offence and not worth the time and resources needed to prosecute).

    Is it exactly the same to say: the police didn't decide to prosecute. No. In this case, maybe someone else decided it for them (the attorney, for instance), but they did prosecute in the end.
    the police didn't prosecute.

    At school you learn how to negate with "didn't". Somehow, nobody at school teaches the negation with "not" (my own experience; don't feel addressed).

    When do we use or prefer "not" over "didn't"?

    Thanks!
    charliedeut
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: to negate with "not", here: Simple Past

    Quote Originally Posted by virus99 View Post
    Hi forum!

    The police decided not to prosecute.

    Is it exactly the same to say: the police didn't decide to prosecute.
    the police didn't prosecute.

    At school you learn how to negate with "didn't". Somehow, nobody at school teaches the negation with "not" (my own experience; don't feel addressed).

    When do we use or prefer "not" over "didn't"?

    Thanks!
    Your example uses two verbs - 'decide' and 'prosecute'. You have to decide which you are negating.
    The police decided, "We won't prosecute".
    The police did not decide, "We will prosecute".
    The first is a decision; the second isn't.

    I'm sure that when you learnt to negate with 'didn't', they were talking about a sentence with one verb in it:
    "John saw the dog."; "John didn't see the dog."
    You're presenting a different structure.

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