To Not or Not To be

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azule
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To Not or Not To be

Postby azule » Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:57 pm UTC

Where do you place the "not" in a sentence?

"I was told not to do that."
"I was told to not do that."

I think there are conflicting word phrases. "told to", "not to do", and "not do".

Any more linguistical terms (with short definition when appropriate) would be great.
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Re: To Not or Not To be

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:00 pm UTC

I'd say they have slightly different senses. "Told not to do" seems to me to be a passive thing about not making choices that would lead to doing the thing; "told to not do" seems much more active and about going out of your way to avoid doing the thing.
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Re: To Not or Not To be

Postby Adam H » Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:15 pm UTC

I think "told to" is not really a phrase, so the question boils down to how you feel about split infinitives. Unless I am wrong.
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Re: To Not or Not To be

Postby mathmannix » Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:17 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:I'd say they have slightly different senses. "Told not to do" seems to me to be a passive thing about not making choices that would lead to doing the thing; "told to not do" seems much more active and about going out of your way to avoid doing the thing.

so, to you, is "I was told not to eat the cake" the same as "I was not told to eat the cake"? That seems to be what you are saying by a passive way of saying things...
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Re: To Not or Not To be

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:23 pm UTC

No. "not told to eat" is different because it doesn't imply even passive avoiding of eating the cake, it just implies that one wasn't told to whether to do anything to eat the cake or not.
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Re: To Not or Not To be

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:46 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:I think "told to" is not really a phrase, so the question boils down to how you feel about split infinitives. Unless I am wrong.
Yeah, in this case I don't perceive a difference between "told not to" and "told to not" apart from the splitting of the second infinitive.
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Re: To Not or Not To be

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Jan 22, 2015 2:26 pm UTC

"Told to not do that" just seems slightly unusual to me. It seems like a rarer construction. Part of my brain thinks it feels more emphatic, but I can't tell if that's just because it sticks out more for that reason.
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Re: To Not or Not To be

Postby jaap » Thu Jan 22, 2015 3:13 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:"Told to not do that" just seems slightly unusual to me. It seems like a rarer construction. Part of my brain thinks it feels more emphatic, but I can't tell if that's just because it sticks out more for that reason.

It feels that way to me too. This construction seems to me more likely to be used if they were told off for actually doing whatever it was, rather than merely warned beforehand that it is not a good idea to do it; or if it were beforehand, that there was at least an expectation that they were going to do that thing otherwise.


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