Can we put "not" between the to and the verb in infinitive form? Is it grammatically correct?

Can I say:

  • She tried to not offend people.
  • To be or to not be, that is the question
  • "She tried not to offend people." I am no grammarian. It just sounds better to my ear! The Shakespeare is brilliant English but would not be spoken that way today unless it would be apt to quote the Bard. I could only tell you how to say it if I knew the context.
    – WRX
    Feb 16 '17 at 16:01
  • Thank you, I know we should put "not" before "to". but my question: is it grammatically correct to add "not" after "to"
    – Shannak
    Feb 16 '17 at 16:09
  • I don't think so, but I am no grammar expert. In the Shakespeare he is using it specifically to discuss the state of being. You can't use this example by Shakespeare as an example of using 'not'. It's like comparing apples and oranges. I cannot explain it -- we need a better qualified person for that.
    – WRX
    Feb 16 '17 at 16:12
  • the original Shakespeare saying is "To be,or not to be;that is the question" I just changed it as example in my question
    – Shannak
    Feb 16 '17 at 16:14
  • 1
    @Shannak - Your example about offending people might not be strictly correct by the textbook, but people do speak that way, and if a native speaker said it, I wouldn't think anything of it.
    – stangdon
    Feb 16 '17 at 17:13

A split infinitive i.e. to put not between to and a bare infinitive, though not common, isn't incorrect grammatically.

We mostly put not in front of a to-infintive.

So the phrase "not to offend people" is preferable to the phrase "to not offend people".

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