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Order of “not” with infinitive

Last month I decided to change my residence and shift to another town. After some days, due to some reasons, I cancelled my program and decided to stay at my current place. At that time I sent a message to my friends, "I've decided not to leave A.I. Town".

After sending the message, a question flashed in my mind that have I used "to" at the correct place. Shouldn't it be "I've decided to not leave A.I. Town"?

I am actually confused that should I separate the preposition "to" and the verb "decided" in the prepositional phrase "decided to" by using "not" in between them?

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marked as duplicate by aedia λ, Jasper, Mr. Shiny and New 安宇, simchona, Matt Эллен Sep 21 '11 at 19:06

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2 Answers

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While "decided to not X" may sound logical, it is not what people usually say. This ngram shows that "decided to not" is hardly used at all. So stick with "decided not to leave".

Side note: "to leave" is the infinitive form of the verb, and by putting "not" in there you are splitting it. There are some who say you should never do that, and that's not really the case (you can put adverbs in there -- "To boldly go where no man has gone before"), but in this case it seems that nobody writes this way, so readers may find this writing jarring or confusing, or may see it as an error.

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I agree, but just occasionally someone might say ‘to not leave’ for emphasis. For example: ‘Leaving might be misunderstood, but to not leave would be worse.’ –  Barrie England Sep 21 '11 at 12:49
    
In that case I would expect the gerund is used also in the second part. –  kiamlaluno Sep 21 '11 at 14:39
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Separating to from the infinitive as in "I've decided to not leave A.I. Town" is called split infinitive. While it is normally not done, there are cases where it is not possible to avoid it, as in "Mark's generosity in this crisis seems to more than make up for his earlier stinginess."

As reported by nohat in his answer, splitting infinitives "can sometimes be awkward, but it is certainly never ungrammatical or 'invalid'."

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