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"I told him not to come at 7."
What is the role of "not" in this sentence ?
According to dictionaries, "not" is an adverb. But what does it modify to become an adverb ?
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Comments  
It's an adverb modifying the infinitive to come. Infinitives are verb forms.

CJ
Thanks CJ,

--- absent yourself (from sth) (formal): to not go to or be in a place where you are expected to be:He had absented himself from the office for the day.-----

I found this entry in the OALD. Why do we say "to not go" instead of "not to go" ?
"to not go" only modifies the verb "go" whereas "not to go" modifies the entire infinitive phrase.
Wouldn't this difference change the meaning of the sentence ?
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Debpriya De to not go
When you place any word between the to of an infinitive and the verb, you have "split an infinitive". The split infinitive has been considered a grammatical error for quite a long time; however, because it is used so often, some authorities are now inclined to accept it as correct.

In my opinion split infinitives like to not go are one of the most inelegant constructions possible in the English language. To my ear, only not to go is correct.
Debpriya De"to not go" only modifies the verb "go" whereas "not to go" modifies the entire infinitive phrase.
In this case the intended meaning is the same no matter which order you use. not modifies the entire infinitive in either case.
Debpriya DeWouldn't this difference change the meaning of the sentence ?
According to some, there are cases where the meaning changes, but that doesn't apply in this case. You might be able to use the search box and find other threads on this topic.

CJ
CalifJim
Debpriya De
The split infinitive has been considered a grammatical error for quite a long time; however, because it is used so often, some authorities are now inclined to accept it as correct. According to some, there are cases where the meaning changes, but that doesn't apply in this case. You might be able to use the search box and find other threads on this topic.CJ

will try again

CalifJim The split infinitive has been considered a grammatical error for quite a long time; however, because it is used so often, some authorities are now inclined to accept it as correct. That's not the only reason it is accepted as correct.

'not to verb' and 'to not verb' have distinct grammatic roles.

I did that not to save money but to save time.

I did that (in order) to not waste more time.

CJ
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What's wrong with

1) I did that in order not to waste time.

or

2) I did that so as not to waste time.

?

Why would you need

3) I did that in order to not waste time.

to get that meaning across?

I fail to see any subtle difference of meaning between 1) and 3).

CJ
I have to leave now; I will respond later.
CalifJimWhat's wrong with

1) I did that in order not to waste time. It just doesn't sound like the best choice to me. 'in order to' is a set phrase that sounds most natural.

Of course "in order" is not needed, but I put it there in brackets to indicate what the natural-sounding sequence of words is, at least to me.

or2) I did that so as not to waste time.? This sounds better than 1), but I think that 'so as to not' sounds better.

My goal is not to be rich; my goal is to not be poor. (directly and specifically says what your goal is, "to not be poor")

My goal is not to be rich; my goal is not to be poor. (suggests your goal is to be of medium wealth, which may be your true wish but the meaning is different from that of the previous sentence)

What do you want me to do?

I want you to not fight with your sister.

I want you to not be late for work again.

The sequence of words sounds much better and more natural than the other option.

Why would you need3) I did that in order to not waste time. to get that meaning across? Again, the 'in order' part is optional.

The question is not simply why it is needed. One question is whether it is at least an acceptable option. The other question is whether it is the best option.

I fail to see any subtle difference of meaning between 1) and 3). Both sentence would be understood. What I am contending is that 'to not verb' not only is not wrong or inelegant, but it is actually better than 'not to verb' in some situations.

CJ
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