The Grammar Guide Spelling What is the difference between "no" and "not"?

What is the difference between "no" and "not"?

What is the difference between "no" and "not"?

The words no and not are often confused because they are easy to mistype. In this article, we explain the difference between them.

Not negates the meaning of the modified verb when used as an adverb.

No means "not any" when used as a determiner.

A good way to remember the difference is that not works with verbs and no works with nouns.

Let's look at how to use the correct word when you're writing.

Not is usually used to modify verbs. It negates the meaning of a verb. If a verb did not occur, you will use not. Sometimes not accompanies nouns, but it only works with nouns that have an article (a, an, the). It can also come before an adverb, such as not many.

Examples of not:

  • He didn't run quickly enough. (didn't = did not)
  • That's not the right bus.
  • There aren't many seats left. (aren't = are not)
  • I do not like playing the cello.

No is usually used to modify nouns. It precedes nouns that do not have an article. It can also precede an adjective that comes before a noun (e.g. no good reason). No also means the opposite of yes. Some synonyms of no are: none, nary, no, null.

Examples of no:

  • That's no excuse.
  • I have no imagination.
  • There are no chocolate bars.

Should I use "no matter how" or "not matter how"?

The right expression is "no matter how" – e.g. I couldn't run fast enough, no matter how hard I tried.

Is the correct expression "there can be no" or "there can be not"?

The correct expression is "there can be no" – e.g. There can be no excuse for rudeness to staff.

What's the correct phrase, "no doubt" or "not doubt"?

The right expression is "no doubt" – e.g. She had no doubt that they had tried their best.

Which is correct, "I do not know" or "I do no know"?

The right expression is "I do not know" – e.g. I don't know the answer to this question. (don't = do not)

Should it be "do not want to" or "do no want to"?

The correct phrase is "do not want to" – e.g. We do not want to pay such a high fee.

Is the expression "I do not think" or "I do no think"?

The correct phrase is "I do not think" – e.g. I do not think I am performing at my best.

Never confuse no and not again. Install our free grammar checker browser extension. Why not test your knowledge in our quiz below?

The definitions in this article were adapted from Wiktionary.

Examples of no in a sentence

Even Jared, who was already on his way to becoming a lawyer, would show no mercy.
- The heart of Devin MacKade by Nora Roberts
Answer: no, and no.
- The wandering fire by Guy Gavriel Kay
They had no idea.
- Secret Weapon Spouse by B. J. Daniels
She slept in T-shirts, no panties.
- Nothing gold can stay by Dana Stabenow
But he knew he was no longer alone.
- Mystery Bride by B. J. Daniels

Examples of not in a sentence

Not surprisingly, Torak agreed with the High Command;
- Demon Lord of Karanda by David Eddings
The human body observing the World realizes that he is not alone.
- Grand Junction by Maurice G. Dantec
Not immediately, perhaps, but if Rakoth takes dominion in Fionavar he takes dominion everywhere.
- The wandering fire by Guy Gavriel Kay
Not just because of all the years of work that had gone into them—but because of his son.
- Mystery Bride by B. J. Daniels
Scanner Lady always played it like this—never giving out all the information, not even her name.
- The Replacement Child by Christine Barber

Test yourself

Choose the missing word in each question.