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Thread: to not + inf and not + to inf

  1. #1
    Подающий надежды оратор Yukionna's Avatar
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    to not + inf and not + to inf

    Hallo everyone.

    I have a question. I was studied that to deny the infinitive you have to put negation before the particle 'to' (not to), but reading some internet sites and forums, I remarked that there are cases when people put negation between particle 'to' and infinitive.

    What deference in meaning we have in these two cases?

    Thank you in advance for all your repllies.

  2. #2
    Почтенный гражданин Demonic_Duck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukionna View Post
    Hello everyone.

    I have a question. I was taught that to deny the infinitive you have to put negation before the particle 'to' (not to), but reading some internet sites and forums, I noticed that there are cases when people put negation between particle 'to' and the infinitive.

    What deference in meaning is there between these two cases?

    Thank you in advance for all your repllies.
    Pretty sure putting negation between "to" and the infinitive is always wrong, but what's the context?
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  3. #3
    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    The preferable way is not + to + infinitive. But in colloquial speech the negation can be put after "to" to make the whole act of not doing something a positive activity.

    An example:

    This website is titled "How to not get hit by cars". Getting hit by cars is something you likely want to avoid when riding a bicycle. So you actively do something. Stilistically, it would be better to say "How to avoid getting hit by cars", but that's longer. So the people who created this site opted for "How to not get hit by cars".

    If they had called their site "How not to get hit by cars" it would have sounded a little like an explanation of "how to get hit by cars in the proper fashion", avoiding getting hit in the wrong way. Which is clearly not what they intend to teach you.
    Спасибо за исправления!

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  4. #4
    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker View Post
    If they had called their site "How not to get hit by cars" it would have sounded a little like an explanation of "how to get hit by cars in the proper fashion", avoiding getting hit in the wrong way. Which is clearly not what they intend to teach you.
    Is it a general rule regarding 'how not to...'?
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  5. #5
    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    Not a rule as such. The rule says "not + to + infinitive", but rules do not concern themselves with meaning. Following that rule with the specific expression used on the website may lead to the misunderstanding I quoted, which is why the colloquial, non-standard word order was used, but stylistically preferable is the "how to avoid" solution. It just isn't cool enough.

    Google gives me lots of examples where people used "to + not + infinitive" and the majority sound quite awkward to me, so it's an expression best avoided.
    Спасибо за исправления!

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  6. #6
    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    I meant the misunderstanding that might arise from using 'not to do smth'. I didn't know there's such nuance involved where "How not to get hit by cars" = "How to get hit by cars in the proper fashion". To me "How not to get hit by cars" sounded like "How to avoid getting hit by cars". That's why I asked.
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  7. #7
    Подающий надежды оратор Yukionna's Avatar
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    bitpicker Thank you very much, you gave me a great explanation. This question was bugging me for a long time.

    Demonic_Duck and thank you for correcting my message, I like being corrected. (though I'm not a masohist lol)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ramil View Post
    Is it a general rule regarding 'how not to...'?
    Actually, I am starting thinking about it myself :how to differ when you can use 'to + not + inf' and when you can't? So the new question arised....

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    Почтенный гражданин Demonic_Duck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramil View Post
    I meant the misunderstanding that might arise from using 'not to do smth'. I didn't know there's such nuance involved where "How not to get hit by cars" = "How to get hit by cars in the proper fashion". To me "How not to get hit by cars" sounded like "How to avoid getting hit by cars". That's why I asked.
    Ah yes, it seems I was too hasty with my original post. I would still definitely recommend that you avoid using "to" + "not" + "infinitive" in formal situations though.

    "How not to get hit by cars" sounds ambiguous because it is naturally split up into "How not to...." and "...get hit by cars". This implies there is a right way and a wrong way to get hit by cars, and that this article will tell you the wrong way. As another example, if the article was called "How not to [....] buy a house", you would assume it was going to tell you what the wrong way of buying a house was. On the other hand, an article entitled "How to not [....] buy a house" sounds like it will teach you how to avoid buying a house!
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker View Post
    The preferable way is not + to + infinitive. But in colloquial speech the negation can be put after "to" to make the whole act of not doing something a positive activity.

    An example:

    This website is titled "How to not get hit by cars". Getting hit by cars is something you likely want to avoid when riding a bicycle. So you actively do something. Stilistically, it would be better to say "How to avoid getting hit by cars", but that's longer. So the people who created this site opted for "How to not get hit by cars".

    If they had called their site "How not to get hit by cars" it would have sounded a little like an explanation of "how to get hit by cars in the proper fashion", avoiding getting hit in the wrong way. Which is clearly not what they intend to teach you.
    Thanks bitpicker, a good explanation, it took me a moment to understand that
    In Russian the difference would be:
    Как не попасть в аварию на мотоцикле. "How to not get hit by cars"
    Как не нужно попасть в аварию на мотоцикле. "How not to get hit by cars"
    Could you say the examples in German?

  10. #10
    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    @ Demonic Duck: the house example illustrates it very nicely!

    @ Yukionna: in your first post you surely meant "difference" (разница) not "deference" (уважение).
    Спасибо за исправления!

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  11. #11
    Почтенный гражданин bitpicker's Avatar
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    @ Romik: Wie man von Autos nicht überfahren wird. Wie man nicht von Autos überfahren wird.

    But you wouldn't say it like that, but rather "wie man es vermeidet, von Autos überfahren zu werden", which is quite the same thing as "how to avoid..."
    Спасибо за исправления!

    Вам нравится этот форум, и вы изучаете немецкий язык? Вот похожий форум о немецком языке.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker View Post
    @ Demonic Duck: the house example illustrates it very nicely!
    I agree, thank you both.
    There are btw tips how to get in a wreck in a right way: Как попадать в аварии - Советы автолюбителям

  13. #13
    Подающий надежды оратор Yukionna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitpicker View Post
    @ Yukionna: in your first post you surely meant "difference" (разница) not "deference" (уважение).
    Yes, I did.

  14. #14
    Старший оракул
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    Quote Originally Posted by Romik View Post
    Как не нужно попадать в аварию на мотоцикле. "How not to get hit by cars"
    Налево пойдёшь - коня потеряешь, направо пойдёшь - сам голову сложишь.
    Прямой путь не предлагать!

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