I have read this quote:

The difference in winning & losing is most often, not quitting.

I am so curious for some issue below.

  • I wonder why "not", as in "not quitting", has a comma in front of "not"?

  • whether "quitting" is a present participle or a gerund?

  • Does meaning of this sentence change if "not" is placed after "is"?

  • Is "not quitting" a reduced form of an adjective clause?

  • Is it possible that "not quitting" comes from "The difference which doesn't quit in winning & losing is most often"?

PS. Thank you in advance for answering my question and I am so sorry if I make you confused.

  • 2
    Perhaps it's a typo and there is a missing comma after "is". "The difference in winning & losing is , most often, not quitting. Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 19:30
  • 2
    The comma is misplaced. Either there should be two or none at all.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 19:32
  • 3
    "Often, the difference between winning and losing is simply not giving up on the task at hand." Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 19:39
  • The sentence, as @MarkHubbard points out, means that 'generally, if you don't quit, you'll win' (rather than any external influence deciding on whether you win or lose). Technically, it will still make sense if you replace 'not' with 'is', although motivational quotes tend to focus on the positive outcome! (if you replace 'not' with 'is', it implies that quitting is what you should do). Also, your last sentence doesn't really make sense - think of the original as 2 parts: 'the difference between winning and losing', 'is most often' (subordinate clause, not really needed), 'not quitting'. Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 21:39
  • 1
    The comma shows that "not" belongs with "quitting"; otherwise the sentence might be understood to say "The difference is not quitting (but is something else). Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 8:05

1 Answer 1

  • The comma before "not" is used to group "not quitting" instead of "is not." It's an odd way to use a comma, but without it, this quote would be confusing.
  • "Quitting" is most closely used as a gerund.
  • Changing the sentence from "is 'not quitting'" to "'is not' quitting" changes the meaning from "not quitting is the difference between winning and losing" to "quitting is not the difference between winning and losing," which is a complete reversal!
  • "Not quitting" is a gerund, and as such, is treated as a noun.
  • The writer most likely used "not quitting" to emphasize that "not quitting" makes one a "winner," rather than emphasizing that "quitting" making one a "loser."

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