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I’ve reviewed the posts discussing the meaning and usage of the phrases, Anything but, nothing less/more than etc. and it helped me a lot. Thanks, first.

My question is about the difference between not more than and no more than.
I fully understand when you use no more than, yet I’m still confused with not (or not ~) more than; some say ‘not’ in not more than makes the whole sentence negative.

For example, the sentence, ‘she is not more beautiful than her sister’, includes the meaning ‘she is beautiful than her sister’ plus NOT. So, they say it means ‘she is not as beautiful as her sister’. Do you agree?

I’m not sure because I sometimes come upon the sentences including not more than just to emphasize its(adjective) negative meaning.

For example, the sentence, Bypass roads are not more innocent than walls, can be written or should be written as ‘Bypass roads are no more innocent than walls’ when you emphasize bypass roads are as bad as walls, I think. (The background information is as followings; The construction of various Israeli bypass roads has contributed in slicing and strangulating Bethlehem district. – Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to evoke an argument on politics. It just happens to be a part of that article. --;)

Anyways, is it safe to think native speakers use both not more than and no more than without any definite rules of usage? If any, would you explain? Thanks in advance.

p.s. I’ve tried to register, but somehow I couldn’t see any message on the screen that I’ve been accepted as a member. Shall I just wait or try again?
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Hi Guest,

"'she is not more beautiful than her sister', includes the meaning 'she is beautiful than her sister' plus NOT." -- difficult to say, because the latter phrase is not grammatical; but anyway, I do agree that it almost means 'she is not as beautiful as her sister' (they could also be equally beautiful).

As for your 'bypass roads / walls' alternatives, I think that they are equivalent in all senses; I would agree that we use 'no -er than' and 'not -er than' interchangeably.

Sorry about the registration-- I'd try again, but what do I know?
No, there is a difference.

Take no more than three sweets or Take not more than three sweets mean the same thing. However, 'no more than' can be used in a perjorative/disbelieving sense as well.

'She is not more beautiful than her sister' means that she is either not as beautiful or about the same as her sister.

'She is no more beautiful than her sister' tells us that they are both ugly and not at all beautiful!

'Bypass roads are not more innocent than walls’ is a fairly straightforward comparison (although I do not quite understand this phrase) saying that walls are more innocent.

'Bypass roads are no more innocent than walls’ means that neither are particularly innocent.
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