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A simple question from a student of mine:
When you want to combine "I think" with "he cannot do it", usually it goes like "I don't think he can do it"--not like "I think he cannot do it". Then, what about "I think" + "he shouldn't do it"? The same pattern, like "I don't think he should do it"?


I said to her "Yes, that's right", but still I need your confirmation on this one, teachers.
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Comments  
This is called 'transferred negation', Taka, and is common with verbs of opinion (think, believe, appear, seem, expect, etc.) So it is not a matter of the modal, or of any particular verb in the subordinate clause, but a matter of the verb in the main clause.

The meanings are for all practical purposes equivalent between "I don't think he can do it" and "I think he cannot do it".
Forget my comments below, MM. Now I understand what you mean.
MM, could you please paraphrase this part of your comments? I don't think I really understand it:
The meanings are for all practical purposes equivalent between "I don't think he can do it" and "I think he cannot do it".


So, when you say "equivalent", do you mean the expression "I think he cannot do it" is also acceptable?
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The meanings are the same.
Oops! Time lag.

So could you answer my question about your word "equivalent"?
I think I did with my last post, but 'yes', Taka. The negation is simply transferred to the main verb. There is no change in the meaning, and both are acceptable; it is just that transferring the negation is very common, and so might be considered more 'natural'.
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I see.

By the way,
This is called 'transferred negation', Taka, and is common with verbs of opinion (think, believe, appear, seem, expect, etc.) So it is not a matter of the modal, or of any particular verb in the subordinate clause, but a matter of the verb in the main clause.


Yes, I know that. And I said almost the same thing to her. But she seemed a bit skeptical about my comments, so I needed "authentic" confirmation from natives.

Thank you very much, MM (as always) !
Taka,

If you need more confirmation, I'll throw mine in as well!

In the cases where "not" can be raised to the main verb, it is more idiomatic to do so, in my opinion.

"I don't want you to get confused" is more idiomatic than "I want you not to get confused".
"He doesn't think we should offer such a large sum for the car" is more idiomatic than "He thinks we shouldn't offer such a large sum for the car".
"I don't believe he is guilty" is more idiomatic than "I believe he isn't guilty".

Jim
A simple question from a student of mine:

When you want to combine "I think" with "he cannot do it", usually it goes like "I don't think he can do it"--not like "I think he cannot do it". Then, what about "I think" + "he shouldn't do it"? The same pattern, like "I don't think he should do it"?

I said to her "Yes, that's right", but still I need your confirmation on this one, teachers.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

My take on this, that is, I think, Taka, that the "I don't think + positive [or the much rarer negative]" represents the normal neutral style similar in nature to the use of contractions as the normal neutral which tends to make speech more friendly/inclusive.

"I think + negative or positive" is used as a response to negate or strengthen a prior statement.

1) I don't think he can do it. VS I think he can't do it.

2) I don't think he should do it. VS I think he shouldn't do it.

I suggest that the second ones in each sentence are much stronger and they do not represent the normal neutral fashion as represented by the first ones.
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