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26 Apr 2023 — Negative Limited


How would you edit this sentence so that "not" is limited (applies only) to the first infinitive and not the second infinitive?



man with a wooden rod

The man asked not to be contacted and to be left alone.


Check one or more editing options.


The man asked not to be contacted and to be left alone.


The man asked to not be contacted and to be left alone.


The man asked not to be contacted, and to be left alone.


The man asked not to be contacted. He wanted to be left alone.



  • infinitive An infinitive is currently analyzed as to (the subordinator) + plain form verb. Placing not before the verb is more emphatic.  The grammar rule regarding not splitting infinitives has little or no support among current grammarians. (There is nothing to split since to is the infinitival subordinator and not part of the verb form.) See Nonfinite Infinitives and Spltting Verbs dispute.
  • negatives – grammar term, a negative can be expressed with absolute (no, not) and relative expressions (few, little, hardly any, scarcely a one).  More subtle expressions of negativity can be expressed with "distancing"  (this vs. that) and with choice of noun and adjective. See Negatives.
  • primary verb – See Primary vs. Secondary Verbs.
  • scope – in grammar, the range that a negative word extends its meaning to words or phrases in a sentence. Confusion may arise about which words the negative affects, particularly when using a negative before "and" or "because". Also see Not Because.
  • sentence – See Complete Thought.