If some sentence starts with 'No + noun + verb', is this the same as 'Noun + negative + verb'? The meaning is negative in both cases, I think, but is it the same?

For example,

  • No reason was given for the change of plan. (= ~ wasn't given ~)
  • "No one built them," answered the man with the star. (= "~ didn't build ~)
  • Nothing is slowing down. (= ~ isn't ~)
  • Nobody called. (= ~ didn't call)

So I wonder if it is right or not to call these equivalent?

I'm confused whenever I see a sentence that starts with 'No + noun' as to what is negated, and whether the meaning changes depending on where the negative is put.

Is there a way how I can understand what the rule is?

closed as unclear what you're asking by curiousdannii, choster, tchrist Nov 5 '17 at 19:49

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. 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.

  • Welcome to EL&U. It is not very clear what you are asking. A web search will turn up innumerable instances of a sentence starting with no plus a noun from reputable publications; why should you doubt whether it is "right" or not? I strongly encourage you to take the site tour and review the help center for additional guidance. Our sister site for English Language Learners may also be of interest. – choster Nov 5 '17 at 19:40
  • My intention is to want to know how I can understand that sentence well because I'm confused that meaning. I wonder if there is a rule or not. – libliboom Nov 6 '17 at 12:47
  • Nopal is not a lack of friends, but an edible cactus paddle. Nomen (like nomenclature) is a name, not "zero men." Nonet is a combination of 9 instruments, not a lack of nets. There are many exceptions to your proposed rule. thefreedictionary.com/words-that-start-with-no – GlenPeterson Nov 6 '17 at 13:40
  • I think it was a good question. The placement of negatives can make quite subtle differences in the meaning. I hope you don't mind me editing it, to clarify what I believe you are asking, and release it from 'hold'. – Harry Tuttle Nov 8 '17 at 11:28
  • Thank Harry for editing my question, you understand it exactly. – libliboom Nov 9 '17 at 4:18

Yes, mostly they are the same - a No+noun is often the same as the noun+negative verb, but not always... the emphasis is different.

For instance "Nothing is slowing down" isn't quite the same as "Something isnt slowing down". The first could imply no object, while the latter implies an object not slowing (e.g. speeding up).

Likewise "No human built them" isn't the same as "humans didn't build them" as the first implies aliens or animals built them, while the latter could imply that they were never built.

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