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"decide to not go" and "try to not make mistakes"

hirashin

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Dear native English speakers
My dictionaries say neither (a) nor (b) is correct. What do you think?
(a) I decided to not go.
(b) I try to not make mistakes.

Thanks in advance.
Hirashin
 

Julie.chan

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They don't look wrong to me. The only possible way I can imagine them being "incorrect" is based on the made-up "rule" against split infinitives.
 

nice gaijin

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you can flip "to not" to say "not to," and it would probably be considered... more correct... but most native speakers wouldn't bat an eye at this.
 

hirashin

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Thank you for the help, Nice gaijin-san.
To tell you the truth, the dictionary that says (b) is incorrect is Longman online dictionary. not | meaning of not in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English | LDOCE

It says:
Not goes before ‘to’ in an infinitive verb.
You say: I try not to make mistakes.
✗Don’t say: I try to not make mistakes.

Maybe British people do not use this structure.
 

nice gaijin

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yeah, a grammarian would probably mark it as incorrect, and people who had it beaten into them as students might flinch, but no one would wonder what you meant. And you'll hear a lot of native speakers making this mistake.

It's like conbini keigo; at what point is it no longer considered "wrong?"
 

johnnyG

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(a) I decided to not go.
(b) I try to not make mistakes.
I don't like (a) at all, while (b) seems marginally possible. Using "not to" in each case makes them perfectly acceptable.
 

hirashin

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Thanks for the help, johnnyG and Majestic.
 
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