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  1. #1
    inase's Avatar
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    I don't think that ... vs. I think that ... not ...

    In the following conversation, it seems that English speakers prefer B1 to B2.

    A: Will he come to the party?
    B1: I don't think he will (come to the party).
    B2: I think he will not (come to the party).

    That said, I am wondering if there is any situation where a B2-like answer makes sense. What about the following conversations?

    A: Do you really think he will come to the party?
    B: I do think he will not. ("I think" is assumed.)

    A: Do you think he ought not to come to the party?
    B: I think he ought not to come to the party. (The B1-like answer may change the context.)

    Inase

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is online now Moderator
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    Re: I don't think that ... vs. I think that ... not ...

    Quote Originally Posted by inase View Post
    In the following conversation, it seems that English speakers prefer B1 to B2.

    A: Will he come to the party?
    B1: I don't think he will (come to the party).
    B2: I think he will not (come to the party).

    That said, I am wondering if there is any situation where a B2-like answer makes sense. What about the following conversations?

    A: Do you really think he will come to the party?
    B: I do think he will not. ("I think" is assumed.)

    A: Do you think he ought not to come to the party?
    B: I think he ought not to come to the party. (The B1-like answer may change the context.)

    Inase
    The main problem with these exercises is that they don't result in natural exchanges of dialogue. What you would actually hear is:

    A: Will he come to the party?
    B: I don't think so.

    A: Do you really think he will come to the party?
    B: I don't.

    A: Do you think he shouldn't come to the party?
    B: I think he shouldn't.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. #3
    inase's Avatar
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    Re: I don't think that ... vs. I think that ... not ...

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    The main problem with these exercises is that they don't result in natural exchanges of dialogue. What you would actually hear is:

    A: Will he come to the party?
    B: I don't think so.

    A: Do you really think he will come to the party?
    B: I don't.

    A: Do you think he shouldn't come to the party?
    B: I think he shouldn't.
    I am interested in why people prefer B to B'.

    A: Will he come to the party?
    B: I don't think so.
    B': I think he won't.

    A: Do you really think he will come to the party?
    B: I don't.
    B': I think he won't.

    A: Do you think he shouldn't come to the party?
    B: I think he shouldn't.
    B': I don't think he should.

    Inase

  4. #4
    andrewg927 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: I don't think that ... vs. I think that ... not ...

    Why people prefer certain things depends on where they are from, where they live, who they hang out with and many other factors. Since it is a preference, there is no right or wrong answer. You could say "I think he won't" if that's what you prefer. I don't find that natural because I wouldn't use it and I don't personally know anyone who might use it.

  5. #5
    inase's Avatar
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    Re: I don't think that ... vs. I think that ... not ...

    The "don't think" type expression seems to be a kind of euphemism. It is like saying "I don't disagree" instead of "I agree" to put it more mildly when referring to something negative.

    However, when the negative to declarative conversion in the sub clause changes the meaning of the original sentence, the negation shift from the sub clause to the main clause does not happen.

    Inase

    I am not a teacher.

  6. #6
    inase's Avatar
    inase is offline Member
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    Re: I don't think that ... vs. I think that ... not ...

    Quote Originally Posted by RobertJ View Post
    Hmmmm---- I reluctantly admit that I don't know what you're trying to say in your second paragraph. However, "I don't disagree" and "I agree" are not congruent. "I agree" is a positive statement. "I don't disagree" is a perfectly neutral statement; it says nothing about "agreeing". It essentially means, "I have no opinion."
    To put it in another way, my understanding is that answer B seems to be preferred to C, though B and C basically mean the same thing.

    A: Do you think he will come to the party? or Will he come to the party? or Is he coming to to the party?
    B: I don't think he will come to the party.
    C: I think he will not come to the party.

    Inase

  7. #7
    andrewg927 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: I don't think that ... vs. I think that ... not ...

    Yes.

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