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When we talk about things that we intended to do, but didn't or will not do in the future, we can use past perfect. I did a question in a reference book:

  1. I hadn't intended to become a doctor, I always wanted to become a teacher.
  2. I had intended not to become a doctor, I always wanted to become a teacher.

(1) is correct but it doesn't state whether (2) is correct, too. So I want to ask if there is any difference between these two sentences. And what will happen if I change the verb to decide?

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2 Answers 2

In sentence one, the speaker had never planned to become a doctor, preferring instead the idea of being a teacher - Her dream was to be a teacher while being a doctor was of no particular interest to her.

In sentence two, the speaker specifically did not want to be a doctor, preferring instead the idea of being a teacher - Her dream was to be a teacher while she was completely against the idea of becoming a doctor.

Incidentally, in both of these sentences, we can infer that the speaker ended up being a doctor despite her preferences being aligned elsewhere.

Also, as stated previously, the two clauses in each sample sentence should be separated by a semicolon rather than a comma:

I hadn't intended to become a doctor; I always wanted to become a teacher.

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A comma is not a good way to separate those two contrasting ideas - a semi-colon or a conjunction would be correct - so the example sentences are not very satisfying.

1 means "I hadn't formed an intention to become a Dr because I always intended to be a teacher" (i.e. no thoughts on being a Dr) and 2 means "I had an intention to be a teacher and an intenion NOT to be a Dr" (i.e. against being a Dr).

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