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Difference Between No and Not

No vs Not

No and Not are two words that are often confused in terms of their usage. Strictly speaking they are to be viewed as two words with different usages.

The word ‘not’ is generally used to make a sentence negative as in the sentence ‘He was not very happy’. Sometimes it is used to make a part of a sentence negative as in the sentence ‘The students went on strike but not the teachers’.

On the other hand the determiner ‘no’ when used with a noun would mean ‘not any’ as in the sentence ‘No leaders got arrested’. The sentence would only mean ‘Not any leader was arrested.’

Observe the two sentences given below:

1. No spectator left the stadium.

2. I was given no time to react.

In both the sentences you get the idea of ‘not a single’ or ‘not any’. In the first sentence you get the idea that ‘Not a single spectator left the stadium’. In the second sentence you get the idea that ‘Not any time was given to me to react’.

It is interesting to note that as a determiner ‘no’ is eligible to be used with another determiner as in the sentence ‘No target is impossible to achieve.’ The sentence would only mean that ‘Every target is possible to achieve’.

Sometimes the determiner ‘no’ is used with the gerund as in the expressions ‘No Smoking’ and ‘No Parking’. Since ‘no’ is a determiner it has to be used before singular nouns and plural nouns as in the sentence ‘No visitors came to the museum this summer’. In this sentence the determiner ‘no’ is used well before a plural noun, namely, ‘visitors’.

In the sentence ‘I have no time left’ the determiner ‘no’ is used before an uncountable noun, namely, ‘time’.


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