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No vs. Not

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While both of these words are used to show the negative, knowing how and when to use ‘no’ and ‘not’ is an important skill and can make a big difference in your English.

‘No’ is usually used to mean something like “not any” or “not a/an”, and usually refers to a noun. It is commonly used in the following situations:

Answering a yes or no question

E.g. Did you finish your homework? No, I didn’t finish my homework.

Using ‘no’ for nouns without an article

E.g. Sarah has no idea where her phone is.

E.g. This is no time for fighting!

E.g. The book has no information.

Adjectives preceding a noun without an article

E.g. I checked the website, but there are no red dresses.

E.g. There were no late trains today.

E.g. The school has no bad teachers.

Before verbal nouns (ending in -ing)

E.g. No smoking.

E.g. No playing in the street!

E.g. No texting during school!

Not is used to express negation in other ways:

For verbs, to show the opposite of an action

E.g. I do not like this colour.

E.g. He is not cooking dinner tonight.

E.g. You cannot go to Jack’s house.

Also for adverbs which are describing a verb

E.g. I don’t like that actor.

Why not? [Why don’t you like that actor?]

E.g. The car is not very fast.

E.g. Not surprisingly, the hotel was very nice.

Nouns with an article

This also includes nouns with an article, which are preceded by an adjective, and adjectives on their own.

E.g. I liked the pink dress, but not the red one.

E.g. He is not a teacher; he is a student.

E.g. Josh is not friendly.

Try it for yourself! And if you liked this lesson, remember to share it with your friends and leave us a comment to tell us what was so great about it!

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