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not to/to not
PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:25 pm Reply with quote
Bridget
 
Joined: 17 May 2007
Posts: 77


Which would you choose here? "To not" or "not to"?

Don: I'm worried that you'll be late.
Dan: Trust me not to/to not do that.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 1:57 pm Reply with quote
thegooseking
 
Joined: 10 Sep 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland


I would choose 'not to', but as has been noted on these forums before, I have a somewhat unwarranted aversion to split infinitives.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:08 pm Reply with quote
Bridget
 
Joined: 17 May 2007
Posts: 77


thegooseking wrote:
I would choose 'not to', but as has been noted on these forums before, I have a somewhat unwarranted aversion to split infinitives.


Have you consulted a doctor on that? Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2008 4:38 am Reply with quote
Eileen Ann
 
Joined: 27 Jun 2008
Posts: 42


Ha the old to not do something. Yes, it is the split infinitive that is widely used these days and Shakespeare used it as well!

We all love the "to boldly go ..." from Startrek do we not?

But, technically speaking, splitting the infinitive is bad really and, in well-written text, should be avoided.

Same as "I only want to say that...." should be "I want only to say that..."

"I want to only say that..." should be "I want to say only that. .. ." etc.

Fun though isn't it?
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 8:48 pm Reply with quote
canismajoris
 
Joined: 17 Jul 2008
Posts: 5


Eileen Ann wrote:
Ha the old to not do something. Yes, it is the split infinitive that is widely used these days and Shakespeare used it as well!

We all love the "to boldly go ..." from Startrek do we not?

But, technically speaking, splitting the infinitive is bad really and, in well-written text, should be avoided.

Same as "I only want to say that...." should be "I want only to say that..."

"I want to only say that..." should be "I want to say only that. .. ." etc.

Fun though isn't it?

Why? Proscribing split infinitives was never really a grammatical issue, but a stylistic one. I'll give you an example.

Say that we're in business. You and I have to report to the board, and luckily revenue is expected to double next quarter. But in order to sound extra confident and optimistic, we want to say that it would do even better. Let's see what happens when we try not to split an infinitive:

"We expect revenues more than to double in the next quarter." (Well I expect revenues too, and did not expect to ungrammatically double.)

"We expect revenues to double more than in the next quarter." (What was the first quarter?)

"We expect more than revenues to double in the next quarter." (What else will double then?)

"We more than expect revenues to double in the next quarter." (Are you going to do something unethical?)

None of those means what I intend to say to the board of directors: that we expect revenues to more than double in the next quarter.

"We expect revenue to more than double in the next quarter."

Also, notwithstanding that you aren't going to find a whole lot of semantic difference between "I only want to say" and "I want to say only," it is not true that you should always say "I want to say only that" as opposed to "I only want to say." (E.g. "I only want to do it, I did say I was actually going to.")

Split infinitive proscription is meant to avoid sentences like "I planning to not completely but at least partially (for my upcoming job interview) shave my beard." I guess I can live with that sentence as it is, but it would sort of kill a conversation.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:47 am Reply with quote
thegooseking
 
Joined: 10 Sep 2006
Posts: 64
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland


I think I've said before that I feel that there is a difference between 'to not' and 'not to'.

If being silent is "not to speak", then it sounds like speaking is something that someone is not doing, whereas if being silent is "to not speak", it sounds like not speaking is something someone is doing, as if 'not speak' becomes a verb in its own right which is the negation of 'speak'.

In other terms, "not to speak" seems passive, and "to not speak" seems active. So one might use "not to speak" when someone has nothing to say (such as a student in a lecture who is listening, not engaging in dialogue), but "to not speak" when someone has something to say but is deliberately not saying it (such as a captured James Bond being interrogated).

I don't think this is a technical semantic distinction, but just a natural connotation that probably arises from the rule on split infinitives. Because (we say) infinitives should not be split, we expect what comes after the word 'to' to be a verb. If "not speak" is what comes after 'to', we parse "not speak" as a verb in its own right.

Or maybe that's just me...

In the above example, I would parse "more than double" as a single verb in itself. The Chambers Harrap 21st Century Dictionary defines 'verb' as "a word or group of words that belongs to a grammatical class denoting an action, experience, occurrence or state" - there's no requirement for it to be just one word, as far as I'm aware, despite the etymology (Latin verbum - 'word').

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 10:33 am Reply with quote
Eileen Ann
 
Joined: 27 Jun 2008
Posts: 42


Hello there, well yes Canismajoris, what you write is true up to a point. None of the above expressions except
"We expect revenue to more than double in the next quarter." sounds right.

But, perhaps something like "We expect more than a doubling of revenues in the next quarter" - completely differently expressed and, if I might say so, far better expressed. Splitting the infinitive - which you may choose to do for stylistic reasons if you so wish - doesn't mean an outcome as you have illustrated; it means choose a different way of expressing it possibly using a gerund.

The reference to my not ...".. going to find a whole lot of semantic difference between "I only want to say" and "I want to say only,"

Well, I would have to disagree. The second sentence is better and sounds better and more thought out. "I only.." implies that I, without anyone else shall be saying something. That there shall be but one speaker.

It is just nice to be aware I think - or is it only I who thinks thus? See, just a way of styling, a choice, an awareness. Remember that to use "only" it is usually as an adverb. To say "I only want to say" is putting the adverb before the verb here. To say "I, only, want to say..." implies that there shall be only one speaker.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2008 2:21 pm Reply with quote
canismajoris
 
Joined: 17 Jul 2008
Posts: 5


Eileen Ann wrote:
Hello there, well yes Canismajoris, what you write is true up to a point. None of the above expressions except
"We expect revenue to more than double in the next quarter." sounds right.


Eileen Ann wrote:
But, perhaps something like "We expect more than a doubling of revenues in the next quarter" - completely differently expressed and, if I might say so, far better expressed. Splitting the infinitive - which you may choose to do for stylistic reasons if you so wish - doesn't mean an outcome as you have illustrated; it means choose a different way of expressing it possibly using a gerund.

But I'm talking about revenue, not about "a doubling."

Eileen Ann wrote:
The reference to my not ...".. going to find a whole lot of semantic difference between "I only want to say" and "I want to say only," Well, I would have to disagree. The second sentence is better and sounds better and more thought out. "I only.." implies that I, without anyone else shall be saying something. That there shall be but one speaker.

Actually if you want to get technical, the second phrase might very well mean that you want to say something, but that you may not necessarily do that or anything else. Nobody in the world would interpret this unless particular emphasis were given to "want" in speech. People don't nitpick that much. "I only want" and "I want only" mean exactly the same thing in almost all cases. That's what I meant by "no semantic difference." Of course you may argue that there are different interpretations, and I will not dispute them, but look honestly at the way most people really communicate and you'll see that I'm right about "only".

Eileen Ann wrote:
It is just nice to be aware I think - or is it only I who thinks thus? See, just a way of styling, a choice, an awareness. Remember that to use "only" it is usually as an adverb. To say "I only want to say" is putting the adverb before the verb here. To say "I, only, want to say..." implies that there shall be only one speaker.

Style is not the same thing as quality. Adhering to a style you prefer is not the same as being better or being right. Learn that distinction and you will find that things people say don't irrationally bother you anymore.
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not to/to not
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