0

Susan secretly goes to the club.

The above sentence means that Susan does go to the club, but keeps her going to the club from others. Let's now negative the verb of the sentence. Thus we want to say that Susan does not go to the club, but keeps her not going to the club from others. So we say:

Susan secretly does not go to the club.

Does the above sentence mean what we want? If so, is it idiomatic to modify "does not" with an adverb. It seems to me that in English above sentences are usually changed so that the adverb modify a positive verb. Like:

Susan secretly ceases to go to the club.

Of course it there are cases of "adverb + do/does not" Source, but my question is whether it is the common way to say such sentences.

closed as too broad by Edwin Ashworth, NVZ, Davo, David, Skooba Aug 12 '17 at 14:18

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    They are all idiomatic, and mean what you think, apart from the last: "does not go" is not the same as "ceases to go" - "does not go" is presumed to be talking about a specific occasion, while "ceases to go" means that she permanently changes her behaviour to no longer ever go to the club. – Max Williams Aug 7 '17 at 10:31
  • 1
    Adverbs behave idiosyncratically distributionwise, and different positioning (where idiomatic) often gives different meaning. Obviously, 'Susan often goes to the club.' and 'Susan often does not go to the club.' are both available, but the latter would be unusual except as a response to say 'Susan's a member of the Tuesday Club; do you think she'd take these keys to the secretary next week?' As a standalone, 'Susan does not go to the club [very] often.' is more idiomatic. / 'Susan religiously attends the club' is available, though 'Susan attends the club religiously' is somewhat more ... – Edwin Ashworth Aug 7 '17 at 10:32
  • 1
    @HotLicks To do what? – Sasan Aug 7 '17 at 11:52
  • 1
    @HotLicks If you are answering my question, then it matters. If you are not answering the question, then what are you doing? – Sasan Aug 7 '17 at 11:59
  • 1
    @HotLicks If you were commenting on my question, then it matters. If you were not commenting on the question, then what were you doing? – Sasan Aug 7 '17 at 12:09
3

Susan secretly does not go to the club.

Though grammatically correct, I don't think this is the meaning you're after. This means that Susan pretends to go the the club, but actually (secretly) does not go to the club at all.

This is grammatically similar to

Susan secretly loves Don.

This means that Susan pretends to not love Don (the opposite of "loves Don"), but actually (secretly) does love him.

In this case, we're talking about "loving Don", instead of "not going to the club". But the principle is the same.
To repeat the first example with more detail: Susan pretends to go the the club (the opposite of "does not go to the club"), but actually (secretly) does not go to the club at all.


Susan does not secretly go to the club.
or
Susan does not go to the club secretly.

These both mean that Susan does not go to the club secretly. She does not pretend to do anything, she is open and honest about what she does.

It doesn't actually specify whether Susan never goes to the club, or still openly goes to the club. Either is possible.


All the examples in this answer are grammatically correct, but their meaning is different.


edit - To directly address your other examples:

Susan secretly goes to the club.
Susan goes to the club secretly.

These are equivalent. There is no change in meaning here. The change in meaning for the earlier example was different because of the negation ("not").

However, it is interesting to see that in the other example, the difference in meaning reappears, albeit for a different reason. Not because of a negation ("not"), but rather the addition of a second verb ("ceases").
This additional verb makes it possible that "secretly" relates to "ceases", as opposed to "going to the club":

Susan secretly ceases to go to the club. (1)
Susan ceases to go to the club secretly. (2)
Susan ceases to secretly go to the club. (3)

To explain the difference in meaning:

  1. Susan used to go to the club. She does not go to the club anymore. She did not let people know that she stopped going (= she secretly changed that). ("secretly" applies to "ceases")
  2. and 3. Susan used to go to the club without people knowing (=secretly). She no longer goes to the club. ("secretly" applies to "going to the club")

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.