Is it wrong to use negative participle 1 in this way?

She took the keys not even asking whether it was allowed or not.

I believe the correct way is:

She took the keys without even asking whether it was allowed or not.

Actually, I don't really think that backshifting (swapping the tense by one back: is => was) is necessary in this case, and we could've swapped "was" to "is" without significant change in meaning, yet there's always a chance I'm wrong.

Will it be acceptable?

She took the keys not even asking whether it is allowed or not.

I surely appreciate your help.

  • 4
    The first would be fine if there was a comma after "keys".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 22:25
  • What is 1 supposed to mean here?
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 22:57
  • Deleted 1 from the title. I thought there was such a classification.
    – Maxyeet
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 22:59
  • 1
    I was trying to figure out from the title what an English negative participle might be. I think 1 might refer to the present (-ing) participial form, and would hypothesize that 2 might refer to the perfect passive (-ed/-en) participial form. Much like other grammar-school euphemisms, Number 1 and Number. 2. Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 23:19

1 Answer 1


This construction is found often enough according to Google books; the examples collected below all confirm Hot licks's comment.

  • And she lifted a high head, not even asking herself what remote sense in her being so obstinately defied and threw down the glove to 'Fate.

  • He nodded wordlessly, not even asking where I was going or …

  • The girl squealed with delight, bolting ahead and making a mad dash up the stairs, not even asking how she had earned such as reward in her cloistered life.

  • And Storm hadn't been wondering anything of the kind. It was exactly what Storm had nailed Cameron for, not even asking why her dad hadn't ...

  • With a wrench of will, he stepped into the kitchen, not even asking who was waiting for him, and strode to the back door. He pulled it open and walked through, passing under his da's giant war-hammer ...

  • People continued to pass, not even asking if they could help in any way, just staring

  • Not even asking me,' Calhoun went on.

However, this does not mean that "without" in the place of "not" is not correct; in all those instances the replacement can be done without changing the meaning.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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