My question is about noun clause in the negative form.

So here is the sentence:

But what you can do is don't give up.

Can I use the negative form (don't) in the second part of the sentence? And if so, is it grammatically correct? Should I use "not" instead of "don't"?

Here is the context so you could understand the meaning of the sentence better:

Jack, you can't just let it go. But what you can do is don't give up. I believe in you. You have to try to do it for one more time.

  • Nice question. Think about the sentence like this: “What you can do is:(you can) xyz”. You can’t use don’t after can, you need a bare infinitive. To make a bare infinitive negative we put the word not in front of it: “What you can do is not give up”. Apr 13, 2021 at 10:18
  • That might do as a verbal response. Not so in written form, I'm afraid— Araucaria has pointed out the reason above.
    – user405662
    Apr 14, 2021 at 0:15

1 Answer 1


If you want to enphasize that Jack shouldn't give up, you should write "But what you can do is not to give up".

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