American English

Definition of not adverb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1used to form the negative of the verbs be, do, and have and modal verbs like can or must and often reduced to n't She did not/didn't see him. It's not/It isn't raining. I can't see from here. He must not go. Don't you eat meat? It's cold, isn't it?
  2. 2used to give the following word or phrase a negative meaning, or to reply in the negative He warned me not to be late. I was sorry not to have seen them. Not everybody agrees. “Who's next?” “Not me.” “What did you do at school?” “Not a lot.” It's not easy being a parent (= it's difficult).
  3. 3used after hope, expect, believe, etc. to give a negative reply “Will she be there?” “I hope not.” “Is it ready?” “I'm afraid not.” (formal) “Does he know?” “I believe not.”
  4. 4or not used to show a negative possibility I don't know if he's telling the truth or not.
  5. 5used to say that you do not want something or will not allow something “Some more?” “Not for me, thanks.” “Can I throw this out?” “Certainly not.”
  6. Idioms
    not a…, not one…
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     used for emphasis to mean “no thing or person” He didn't speak to me—not one word.
    used to politely accept thanks or to agree to something “Thanks a lot.” “Not at all.” “Will it bother you if I smoke?” “Not at all.”
    not only… (but) also…
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    used to emphasize that something else is also true She not only wrote the text but also selected the illustrations.
    used to state that you are not suggesting something She hasn't written—not that she said she would.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: not