Updated: Feb 20
Do you know when to correctly use no and not? For ESL students these words can be puzzling because they are both used to indicate a negative. If you find yourself often making mistakes or getting confused when it comes to these two words, don’t worry! You’re not alone. Follow the grammar rules outlined in this blog and you’ll never mix up the two again!
No + Noun
No can be used before a noun without an article (a, an, the). This means there is none of something.
There was no food in the refrigerator.
There is no way out.
No + Adjective
No can also be used before nouns that are modified by adjectives without an article.
There are no good players on their team.
There were no cold drinks.
No is used to answer yes or no questions.
Have you eaten dinner yet?
Are you coming to the party?
No, I can’t come.
No + Gerund
Lastly, no is used before gerunds.
There is no smoking allowed in this building.
There is no turning back now.
Not + Verb
Not is used before verbs to make them negative.
I do not want to watch TV.
He can not sing very well.
Not + Adjective
Not can be used before adjectives.
He is not angry.
I’m not hungry right now.
Not + Adverb
Not can also be used before adverbs. Examples:
Not surprisingly, many people disagreed with him.
I was not actually listening.
Not + Noun
Not is also used before nouns. Examples:
There is not a car outside.
There was not a problem.
Not + Any, Enough, Much, or Many
Not is often used with any, enough, much, and many.
You are not any better than the others.
There is not enough time to stop by the store.
There is not much left.
Not many people would agree to those conditions.
Not + Pronoun
Not is used before pronouns when giving a short reply to a question.
Who is upset?
Do you want to talk to someone?
No or Not Any?
There is almost no difference between There is/are no + noun and There isn’t/aren’t any + noun. However, no tends to make the negative stronger and is often stressed when speaking. Take a look at these examples!
There is no coffee left.
There isn’t any coffee left.
There are no wrong answers.
There aren’t any wrong answers.
Now that you know how to use no and not, why not watch the video lesson? There is a quiz at the end of the lesson, so be sure to take the quiz and see how well you understand the differences between no and not!