174 votes

"It really doesn't matter" v "It doesn't really matter"

When the adverb really comes before a negated auxiliary, the effect is of emphasising the truth of the sentence: I really cannot tell the difference. Here the speaker is emphasising that they ...
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33 votes
Accepted

What is the difference between "The army didn't have any" and "didn't have no" in "It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier"?

It is a dig at the alleged low intelligence of the military personnel. Throughout that song there are sideswipes at the military in general. Examples: He couldn't tell a shelter half from an ...
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  • 12.9k
27 votes

"It really doesn't matter" v "It doesn't really matter"

Ultimately the word "really" means the same in both cases, of adding strength or emphasis. If we swap "really" for "definitely" this becomes more clear: The first one is like "It definitely ...
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  • 22.8k
26 votes
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What is this "Nor"?

It may be a little archaic, but it's perfectly comprehensible. Unlike the other respondents, I do not believe an implied previous phrase is required; it is simply and he could not beat them off... ...
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24 votes
Accepted

Non-existing or nonexisting

Short answer: neither. The word you want is nonexistent. Longer answer: You can actually add a "non" prefix to any word to make up something new, even if it's not in the dictionary. (If you ...
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21 votes

What is this "Nor"?

This way of using nor is indeed somewhat archaic. Normally, nor requires that another negative has been employed somewhere previously. In your Odyssey quote, for example, we might imagine something ...
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20 votes

Are "No more healthy than" and "No more big than" both OK?

Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech and Svartvik have the following in their A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (pp. 462-463): Most adjectives that are inflected for their comparison can also take ...
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  • 1,678
19 votes

Understanding the purported ambiguity in “Every boy didn’t run”

If "every" is in the scope of "not", it means "It is not the case that every boy ran," or, that is, "Some boy didn't run," or "Not every boy ran." That is the preferred interpretation if every is ...
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  • 16.9k
19 votes

What is the difference between "The army didn't have any" and "didn't have no" in "It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier"?

The other answers are correct, but they (and the OP) are missing an important piece of context: the first part of the quoted sentence. The full introduction to the song runs as follows: I have only ...
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  • 618
18 votes

"Whether or not" vs. "whether"

The New York Times' stylebook says or not is often redundant. It is ordinarily omitted when the clause functions as a noun, e.g. it is the object of a verb or preposition, or subject of the sentence. ...
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  • 3,408
17 votes

"It really doesn't matter" v "It doesn't really matter"

I think it helps a lot to break these two sentences down: It really doesn't matter: The base sentence here is It doesn't matter. Really is an adverb which modifies doesn't. In this case, it puts ...
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  • 677
16 votes
Accepted

How to hyphenate a negated compound noun?

While I would say the third of your options, "non-defect-source-assesment processes", is most correct, I would strongly suggest trying to rephrase the subject for clarity. The hyphens can be used to ...
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  • 894
16 votes

The use of "not" in idiomatic English

If I understand the Pentagon's attitude correctly, the sentence should say "Pentagon experts on Friday said it was impossible to imagine that the missile could have been fired without Russian help," ...
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  • 17.8k
16 votes

Why do not we ask negative questions without a contraction on the not after the verb?

This is an interesting question. I haven't an authoritative answer, but I can sketch the historical development and make some suggestions for how it came to be. The first thing is that not is an ...
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  • 74.5k
14 votes

Can I use 'better still' in negative sentences?

As an aside, I think three articles can be dropped to form a clearer sentence. Also, the question mark confuses me a little bit, because the sentence is structured as a factual statement, not as a ...
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  • 35.8k
14 votes

Are "No more healthy than" and "No more big than" both OK?

Instead of using more to form comparatives, notice what happens when you use inflection for the comparative degree: Oversleeping is no healthier than overeating. The camera is no bigger than my ...
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  • 127k
13 votes

What is the origin of auxiliary verbs?

The rise of 'do' in the history of English The history of do has long been of interest to historical linguists, and there is an extensive literature on the rise of do in the history of English. The ...
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  • 1,589
11 votes

Why do not we ask negative questions without a contraction on the not after the verb?

There are several rules involved here. Not-Placement, which puts not immediately after the first auxiliary verb. Auxiliary-Negative Contraction, which optionally produces a single contracted ...
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  • 99.5k
10 votes

Is it "Don't let's" or "Let's don't"?

According to the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Huddleston & Pullum 2002), there are two dialect usages within Standard English with regard to let's. One of these has let as a verb ...
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10 votes
Accepted

Understanding the purported ambiguity in “Every boy didn’t run”

The quote would be clearer if it spoke of the difference between the reading in which all boys didn’t run and (that in which) some did. In the positive version “every boy ran”, there is no ambiguity: ...
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  • 37.6k
9 votes
Accepted

untypical, atypical, nontypical

Atypical is by far the most common of the three, as confirmed in a Google Ngram search, so that would be my suggestion. Untypical is apparently most often used in the phrase "not untypical". Another ...
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  • 533
9 votes

"It really doesn't matter" v "It doesn't really matter"

When dealing with modifiers, it is crucial to understand what is being modified, and in English, this is typically determined positionally: modifiers tend to come directly before the thing being ...
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8 votes
Accepted

What are the differences between "seems not" and "doesn't seem"?

I don't think they are correct, close and understandable but not how a native English speaker would say it, I would say "He seems to not want us to help" and "He seems to want us to help" negative ...
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  • 104
8 votes
Accepted

Is it normal to use "yes" begin a negative answer?

According to On the syntax of yes and no in English (alt link: download PDF), English uses the polarity-based system, in contrast to languages like Japanese that use the truth-based system. (This is ...
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  • 56.3k
8 votes

No man (or woman) is an island

The normal understanding of "No man is an island" is that there is not any man who is an island (lives in complete isolation). However, the specific wording of "No woman is also an island" may (...
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  • 7,084
8 votes

Understanding the purported ambiguity in “Every boy didn’t run”

This stack is about usage. First, "every boy didn't run" is a very awkward usage, and would not be used without context. The context will decide which meaning is applicable. ”Your list of ...
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8 votes
Accepted

Where should "never" go in "Harris Should Have Never Run for President"

This seems to be an American English vs British English issue. Here are the results of searching for these phrases in the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA, 560 million words) and the ...
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7 votes

Why does "Why doesn't it work?" become "Why does it not work?"

I don't have a good answer for the question "Why does 'Why doesn't it work?' become 'Why does it not work?'” The shift is doubly intriguing if (like me) you don't see a compelling reason (beyond mere ...
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  • 151k
7 votes

Question tags — "did you" vs. "didn't you"

Tag questions always swap negative values; like multiplying by minus one. Although tags with two negatives are impossible: *You never went there, didn't you? *She isn't coming tonight, isn't she? ...
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  • 99.5k

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