There are two sources, which contradict each other.

The first one:

Notice "Ought not" Remember that "ought to" loses the "to" in the negative. Instead of "ought not to," we say "ought not."

The second one:

You say that someone ought not to do something: She ought not to go.

You can also use oughtn’t: She oughtn’t to go.

So, what is correct: ought not to do or ought not do?

  • I trust the Longman source, and Cambridge Mar 11, 2017 at 11:19
  • Yes, it seems that there are a lot of sources insisting on "ought not to do" variant...
    – DimanNe
    Mar 11, 2017 at 11:22
  • No no, my mistake. American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style says, the to is sometimes omitted, but it's not commom in writing. So, I think it's fine :) Mar 11, 2017 at 11:31
  • So, do you mean that it is just an British vs American difference in usage of ought?
    – DimanNe
    Mar 11, 2017 at 11:35
  • According to NGram, the former isn't widely used in both AmE and BrE Mar 11, 2017 at 11:42

1 Answer 1


The "to" in ought not to is optional in informal non-assertive context, which is particularly associated with negation.

But it's more natural to say She oughtn't to go or just use should, she shouldn't go.

New Fowlers Modern English Usage

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