'Not' is a commonly used negative marker and pro-sentence in the English language. In this lesson, we will discuss how to learn and use it.
'Not' as a Negative Marker
As stated above, 'not' is a negative marker that we use to negate words, verbs, possibilities, etc. Below, we will learn all about it:
'Not' to Negate Clauses
When 'not' is used as a negative marker, we can negate clauses with it. As you might know, we have two English clause types: finite and non-finite. Finite clauses consist of a verb and have a tense. However, non-finite clauses are ones that do not have a tense and are mainly subordinate. Let us see how they go along with a negative marker:
Here, we have a finite clause.
Position in a Sentence
As it was clear in the example above, the sentence is complete and has a tense (present tense). When we want to negate it, we put 'not' between the auxiliary and the main verb. Look at the following examples for more clarification:
The children have
Here, the sentence is in the present perfect tense.
As you can see, the sentence is in the present continuous tense.
Now, when we are changing these sentences into questions, 'not' can have two positions. One is that it remains after the subject. The second is that it will come right after the modal verb or the auxiliary verb. Please note that when it is used after the modal verb, it is in the contracted form 'n't':
Can the baby
As you can see, 'not' has kept its place after the subject.
Here, we have the contracted form of 'not' right after the modal verb.
Now, let us learn about non-finite clauses:
Seeing the professor is a bad idea.
Here, we have a non-finite clause in the sentence.
He is thinking to take the opportunity.
Position in a Sentece
As it was clear above, the underlined parts are showing the non-finite clause. It has no tenses and no subjects. When we want to negate these clauses, we mainly add the marker before the verb. If we have another marker like 'to' in the clause, we must put 'not' before it. Look:
Here, 'not' has come before the verb and negated it.
They were thinking
Katy is considering
It might come in handy to know that we can put 'not' after 'to' only in spoken English. Look:
She is thinking to
'Not' to Negate Other Words
Another function of 'not' as a negative marker is to come before words like nouns, adjectives, and adverbs and negate them. Look below:
Here, we are negating a pronoun.
Position in a Sentence
'Not' as a Pro-sentence
When a simple word or expression is used to function as a complete sentence, it is called a pro-sentence. Another function of 'not' is to be a pro-sentence. Look at the following examples:
I don't know whether to take it or not. ( ... whether to take it or not take it.)
Position in a Sentence
'Not' can be used in many different positions in a sentence. Study the following list:
- When we want to respond negatively. Look:
- We can use it after verbs like 'hope', 'expect' and 'believe' to reply negatively. Look:
- When we want to show a negative possibility, we can use 'not':
It all depends on whether you like it or
I'm still not sure if I'm ready to face the truth or
- When we want to show that we will not allow something to happen, or we do not want something that is offered. Look:
- When we want to emphasize the opposite of a sentence, we use 'not':
Well, that sounds like an exciting day_
We mainly reduce 'not' to 'n't' only when we are adding it to verbs. Look:
The boy did
Here, we can also say (the boy did not...).
Idioms and Expressions with 'Not'
We have some idioms with 'not' in English. We will learn all about them below:
- Not at all: When we want to politely express our 'thanks' to someone or agree with them:
- Not only, but also: This one is used when we want to add an idea that is also true. Look:
- Not that: We use this one when we want to not suggest something:
Martha hasn't come back,
Please note that whenever we have 'not only', we must always change the places of the subject and the verb.
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