Meaning of NOT in English


transcription, транскрипция: [ nɒt ]

Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.

Note: 'Not' is often shortened to 'n’t' in spoken English, and added to the auxiliary or modal verb. For example, ‘did not’ is often shortened to ‘didn’t’.


You use not with verbs to form negative statements.

The sanctions are not working the way they were intended...

I was not in Britain at the time...

There are many things you won’t understand here...

I don’t trust my father anymore.



You use not to form questions to which you expect the answer ‘yes’.

Haven’t they got enough problems there already?...

Didn’t I see you at the party last week?...

Didn’t you just love the Waltons?



You use not , usually in the form n’t , in questions which imply that someone should have done something, or to express surprise that something is not the case.

Why didn’t you do it months ago?...

Hasn’t anyone ever kissed you before?...

Shouldn’t you have gone further?...



You use not , usually in the form n’t , in question tags after a positive statement.

‘It’s a nice piece of jewellery though, isn’t it?’...

I’ve been a great husband, haven’t I?...



You use not , usually in the form n’t , in polite suggestions.

Actually we do have a position in mind. Why don’t you fill out our application?...

Couldn’t they send it by train?

NEG [ politeness ]


You use not to represent the negative of a word, group, or clause that has just been used.

‘Have you found Paula?’—‘I’m afraid not, Kate.’...

At first I really didn’t care whether he came or not.



You can use not in front of ‘all’ or ‘every’ when you want to say something that applies only to some members of the group that you are talking about.

Not all the money, to put it mildly, has been used wisely...

Not every applicant had a degree.



If something is not always the case, you mean that sometimes it is the case and sometimes it is not.

She couldn’t always afford a babysitter...

The life of an FBI agent wasn’t always as glamorous as people thought.



You can use not or not even in front of ‘a’ or ‘one’ to emphasize that there is none at all of what is being mentioned.

The houses are beautiful, but there’s no shop, not even a pub to go into...

I sent report after report. But not one word was published...

NEG [ emphasis ]


You can use not in front of a word referring to a distance, length of time, or other amount to say that the actual distance, time, or amount is less than the one mentioned.

The tug crossed our stern not fifty yards away...

They were here not five minutes ago!

NEG : NEG amount


You use not when you are contrasting something that is true with something that is untrue. You use this especially to indicate that people might think that the untrue statement is true.

He has his place in the Asian team not because he is white but because he is good...

Training is an investment not a cost...



You use not in expressions such as ‘not only’, ‘not just’, and ‘not simply’ to emphasize that something is true, but it is not the whole truth.

These movies were not only making money; they were also perceived to be original...

There is always a ‘black market’ not just in Britain but in Europe as a whole...

NEG [ emphasis ]


You use not that to introduce a negative clause that contradicts something that the previous statement implies.

His death took me a year to get over; not that you’re ever really over it...



Not at all is an emphatic way of saying ‘No’ or of agreeing that the answer to a question is ‘No’.

‘Sorry. I sound like Abby, don’t I?’—‘No. Not at all.’...

‘You don’t think that you’ve betrayed your country.’—‘No I don’t. No, not at all.’

CONVENTION [ emphasis ]


Not at all is a polite way of acknowledging a person’s thanks.

‘Thank you very much for speaking with us.’—‘Not at all.’

CONVENTION [ formulae ]


not half: see half

if not: see if

not least: see least

not to mention: see mention

nothing if not: see nothing

more often than not: see often

Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Английский словарь Коллинз COBUILD для изучающих язык на продвинутом уровне.