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  1. nyota's Avatar
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    #1

    decided TO not kill...

    This would have been a picture of my 2-month old baby if the mother had decided to NOT kill our child!"
    Why not "decided NOT to kill" ?

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    #2

    Re: decided TO not kill...

    It reads stronger to place the "not" next to the "kill." That's the guy's point, that she did kill their unborn baby.

    You certainly could say "not to kill" and some would insist there is a "rule" that one should not split an infinitive.

  2. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: decided TO not kill...

    Quote Originally Posted by nyota View Post
    Why not "decided NOT to kill" ?
    I agree with you, the text displays a common error which is awkward and unjustified.

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    #4

    Re: decided TO not kill...

    It's probably best to remember not to split an infinitive -- especially when writing. In spoken English one might use it by inflecting their voice for emphasis.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: decided TO not kill...

    Quote Originally Posted by allenman View Post
    It's probably best to remember not to split an infinitive -- especially when writing. In spoken English one might use it by inflecting their voice for emphasis.
    No, it's not. It's better to forget that this was ever a "rule".

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: decided TO not kill...

    Quote Originally Posted by nyota View Post
    Why not "decided NOT to kill" ?
    I think the real meaning is neither "decided NOT to kill" nor "decided to NOT kill". It's "not decided to kill".

    "This would have been a picture of my 2-month old baby if the mother had not decided to kill our child!"

    (I wonder where he got the photo of the non-existant baby from?)

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    #7

    Re: decided TO not kill...

    There is no universally valid rule prohibiting the splitting of 'to' from the infinitive that follows it. (In fact, the only way that one could genuinely split any infinitive would be to place one word literally in the middle of another!)

    There is, however, a clear rule of syntax applying in this particular case, whereby, in standard usage, negative adverbs such as 'not' and 'never' precede, rather than follow, the 'to' of a dependent infinitive.

    Thus 'decided not to kill' is standard word order, and 'decided to not kill' nonstandard. The only significant exception to this (although it does not apply in this case) is where the negated infinitive stands as the first part of a minimalistic 'not...but...' conjunct, allowing e.g.

    She decided to(,) not kill(,) but simply reprimand the baby.

  5. 5jj's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: decided TO not kill...

    Note for learners. This post concerns a fairly trivial point. Do not worry about it.
    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post
    She decided to(,) not kill(,) but simply reprimand the baby.
    Interesting. Here are Philo's suggestions, with the brackets removed:

    1. She decided to, not kill, but simply reprimand the baby.
    2. She decided to not kill but simply reprimand the baby.

    I think that #1 needs a comma after reprimand, and that #3 is possible:

    3. She decided to not kill, but simply reprimand, the baby.

    My personal preference is for #4:

    4. She decided, not to kill, but simply to reprimand, the baby.

    However, commas are not my strong point.What do others think is the best punctuation for these sentences?

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    #9

    Re: decided TO not kill...

    Punctuation of such sentences does seem to vary considerably nowadays, especially between BrE and AmE users, the latter generally preferring to omit commas wherever possible.

    I concur, however, that, if commas are to be used at all here, there probably should also be one after the second infinitive.

    Naturally, one may choose to be less minimalistic and repeat the 'to', which would avoid the slight structural infelicity of the 'to not' sequence.

  6. nyota's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: decided TO not kill...

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post

    (I wonder where he got the photo of the non-existant baby from?)
    He photoshopped the baby and put it all on a billboard.

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