I have prepared a report and don't want to show one piece of information to the client. I want to tell my friend this. If I say...

We don't show this in the report. Otherwise xyz will happen.

...is my sentence formation correct?

I don't want to use should not / need not / can not / will not in the sentence.

closed as off-topic by Chenmunka, StoneyB, Nathan Tuggy, M.A.R., user3169 May 18 '17 at 20:32

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Proofreading questions are off-topic unless a specific source of concern in the text is clearly identified. See: Alternative websites for proofreading" – Chenmunka, StoneyB, Nathan Tuggy, M.A.R.
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  • For reference: "don't". – cHao May 18 '17 at 14:47
  • Also, information is not normally a countable noun; we don't say "one information". You would have to say "one piece of information". – stangdon May 18 '17 at 15:50

I don't think it's a matter of grammatical rules as such, but personally I don't like the "double negation" involved in juxtaposing not show + otherwise. That aside, consider these simpler examples...

1) Don't move or I'll shoot (1530 written instances in Google Books)
2) Don't move otherwise I'll shoot. (one written instance)
3) Stop! Or I'll scream! (297 written instances)
4) Stop! Otherwise I'll scream! (no written instances)

...where obviously #2 and #4 are vanishingly uncommon compared to #1 and #3, regardless of whether the first "alternative" involves a negated verb form.

In OP's exact context, I also don't like the use of will for the hypothetical/counterfactual second alternative. Again, I'm not convinced it's actually "ungrammatical", but I think would is far more idiomatic when referring to a "theoretical possibility" that (in context) definitely won't happen. Taking those two points into account, the smallest change to make OP's example idiomatic for me is...

5) We don't show this in the report, or xyz would happen.

...but I think on purely semantic grounds I'd rather use a conjunction that more accurately expresses the relationship between the two alternatives...

6) We don't show this in the report, because xyz would happen [if we did].

Note that when the first alternative is expressed in the negative as above, it's completely optional whether to explicitly specify if we did [include it in the report] because it's contextually obvious (if the first alternative is NOT X, the second one is usually just the non-negated X). But if the first alternative isn't negated, you'd normally need to be more explicit for clarity...

7) ?We put that in the report or the auditors would complain. (to me, "less-than-ideal")
8) We put that in the report because otherwise the auditors would complain. (better)
9) We put that in the report because the auditors would complain if we didn't. (best)


Too bad you don't want to use should not or shouldn't. Your sentence would make more sense if you did.

"We shouldn't show this in the report. Otherwise xyz will happen."

You can say something similar, though, if you add want to after the don't:

"We don't want to show this in the report. Otherwise xyz will happen."

  • I simply took OP at his word that he didn't want to use shouldn't precisely because that conveys a somewhat different meaning (people often actually do do things they shouldn't, or didn't want to do, but obviously they never did things they didn't do). – FumbleFingers May 18 '17 at 15:59
  • @FumbleFingers - Oh! I see how you're reading the original now. Interesting. – J.R. May 19 '17 at 15:31
  • This looks like yet another of those cases where I failed to read and take into account the question title. If I'd done that I probably wouldn't have posted an answer at all (most likely I'd have closevoted as "Unclear" or "Proofreading"). But I would also just add that the actual question text does start with I have prepared a report. This implies OP just wants to convey the bare fact that something contextually relevant isn't in the report - which he then justifies/explains (it doesn't seem to be asking the addressee for advice or approval). – FumbleFingers May 19 '17 at 16:29
  • @FumbleFingers - I agree this was a hard question to interpret. Kudos to both of us, though, for taking a stab at it and trying to help the learner. – J.R. May 19 '17 at 16:30
  • The issue I mainly addressed was that otherwise is idiomatically unlikely in the construction [obey this imperative] or [something bad will happen], which I think could be useful to many learners. And the issue your answer raises for me (a possible difference between You shouldn't do that and You don't want to do it) also looks like it could be interesting/useful for the broader audience. It's just a shame we didn't have decent questions to post them against! – FumbleFingers May 19 '17 at 16:40

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