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    #1

    to not or not to

    I've seen the structures not to be afraid and to not be afraid. Are they both correct?

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: to not or not to

    Quote Originally Posted by vivtof View Post
    I've seen the structures not to be afraid and to not be afraid. Are they both correct?
    Yes, and in most cases they mean the same.
    There have been several threads recently about this - you might like to search for "not to" or "to not" as topics.

    Consider these sentences:
    1. She told me not to be afraid of the dark.
    2. She told me to not be afraid of the dark.
    The first is much more common in English. But the second isn't wrong.

  2. lauralie2's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: to not or not to

    Quote Originally Posted by vivtof View Post
    I've seen the structures not to be afraid and to not be afraid. Are they both correct?
    I agree with Raymott: both are used, but the first one (not to be) is considered more accurate grammar-wise because the adverb 'not' modifies the entire verb 'to be'.

    As for why speakers use the second one (to not be), and the reason it is becoming more acceptable, has to do with semantics. The infinitive marker to, in to be, for example, lacks semantic content, so speakers are starting to place the adverb directly before the semantic-carrying part of the infinitive verb, the base verb, like so,


    • to not be
    • to not go
    • to not listen
    • to not do

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    #4

    Re: to not or not to

    Some speakers feel that to not is somehow stronger or more negative than not to and use it to express greater rejection/refusal, etc, so I decided to not go would express a strong refusal to go.

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