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    #1

    decision not to do....

    Is the negative to-infinitive correctly used with the noun below?

    The decision not to go is not my decision.

    Or you have alternative ways to rephrase the negative infinitive?

    Thank you.

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: decision not to do....

    It's fine.

    Some people, often rather militant opponents of prescriptivism, say that there's a difference between 'deciding not to P' and "deciding to 'not P'". They would say that if you mean 'their decision to not go' you should say that, in defiance of the many teachers who would forbid it. 'When I split an infinitive, I split it so that it stays split' [that's a bowdlerized version of the original Raymond Chandler(?)]

    In those cases, I try to use a verb that includes a negative - like 'forbid', 'veto', 'ban', 'abjure', 'deny', 'abstain...'. So that rather than 'He decided not to eat' I would say 'he decided to fast' (so that nobody could complain about where I'd put the 'not' ). But there isn't a suitable negative-loaded opposite to 'go': 'He decided to avoid Vladivostok' is a bit extreme - it suggests there's something frightful or ghastly or heinous or dangerous there. 'He decided to give Vladivostok a miss' would be OK, but quite informal.

    You could say 'He decided against going', or use some other verb - 'He ruled out...', 'He dismissed the idea of...) - this one is quite useful, because you can qualify the dismissal: 'He dismissed as ridiculous/impossible/fanciful/self-indulgent... <whatever> the idea of going'. But as I said at the beginning - and as someone will probably have already said before I hit the Post button - your version is fine.

    b

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    #3

    Re: decision not to do....

    Thank you, BobK.
    Your advice is useful.

    Sorry, I have one more question to ask.

    Should I say which one below? or both are OK

    He dismissed the idea of going as ridiculous.
    OR
    He dismissed as ridiculous the idea of going.

    Thanks again.
    Treat you to beer.
    Last edited by panicmonger; 18-Sep-2010 at 16:08.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: decision not to do....

    Quote Originally Posted by panicmonger View Post
    Thank you, BobK.
    Your advice is useful.

    Sorry, I have one more question to ask.

    Should I say which one below? or both are OK

    He dismissed the idea of going as ridiculous.
    OR
    He dismissed as ridiculous the idea of going.

    Thanks again.
    Treat you to beer.
    They're both OK. I tend to prefer the second version, especially if the intervening sentence-part is long: I wouldn't be happy with something like 'He dismissed the idea of going to his friend's party the following week to celebrate his 35th birthday as ridiculous'. But if there's just the gerund in between - 'the idea of going' - the 'as ridiculous' can go at the end.

    b

  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: decision not to do....

    Quote Originally Posted by panicmonger View Post
    Thank you, BobK.
    Your advice is useful.

    Sorry, I have one more question to ask.

    Should I say which one below? or both are OK

    He dismissed the idea of going as ridiculous.
    OR
    He dismissed as ridiculous the idea of going.

    Thanks again.
    Treat you to beer.
    They're both OK. I tend to prefer the second version, especially if the intervening sentence-part is long: I wouldn't be happy with something like 'He dismissed the idea of going to his friend's party the following week to celebrate his 35th birthday as ridiculous'. But if there's just the gerund in between - 'the idea of going' - the 'as ridiculous' can go at the end.

    b

    PS This applies especially when you're already using 'as' to refer to something else: this would be most unlikely: 'He dismissed the idea of going to the fancy dress party as Napoleon as ridiculous'!

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