Take heed to not wake the sleeping baby.

What is wrong with the above sentence?

Should it be "take heed of not waking"?

The answer in the book suggests, "take heed not to wake"

  • "To take heed of something" means to be aware of it. of changes the meaning. To "take heed that..." or to "take heed to" means to see to it, that is, either to do it yourself, or to make sure that it is done (or not done, as the case may be) . Take heed to water the flowers. Take heed not to feed the bears. Take heed of the ice on the road. Take heed that your students do not use their phones during the exam. May 19 '17 at 14:32
  • As @chaim pointed out below, the book's answer may reflect a desire to avoid splitting the infinitives when negating the verb. For more on that topic, see the answers to this question on ELU: english.stackexchange.com/questions/23152/…
    – Adam
    May 19 '17 at 15:45

My guess is that your book doesn't want you to "split the infinitive." It wants the word "to" next to the infinitive verb "wake" without the word "not" in the middle.

  • 1
    +1, because I agree that this is probably what the book is thinking. That said, splitting an infinitive with the word "not" is common, and in this case sounds fine to my AmE ears.
    – Adam
    May 19 '17 at 15:33
  • @Adam I agree, but I think that "not to wake the baby" sounds at least as natural here as "to not wake the baby", so I would vote for the old rule and "not to wake."
    – Chaim
    May 19 '17 at 17:16

The most common way to say what you mean in your example sentence would be

Take care not to wake the sleeping baby


Be careful not to wake the sleeping baby

(Take heed is also fine, but less common)

The answer in your book is thus correct.

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