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I lower myself to show humbleness.

  1. I lower myself, in order to show my humbleness.
  2. To lower oneself is a way of showing humbleness, and I lower myself.

I don't lower myself to show humbleness.

  1. I don't lower myself, in order to show my humbleness. (????)
  2. To lower oneself is a way of showing humbleness, and I don't lower myself.

I don't lower myself not to show humbleness.

  1. I don't lower myself, in order not to show my humbleness.
  2. To lower oneself is a way of showing humbleness, and I don't lower myself.

The first sentence is no problem, but when I make the negative version of that, I am confused. I find this ambiguity when the sentence structure is (not VERB to VERB). Is the second sentence considered correct?

  • humility is better than humbleness. But there is no ambiguity. Your last sentence is not logically correct. – Lambie Dec 15 '19 at 19:19
  • Thank you for answering, but the second sentence makes me very confused because the interpretation seems to be opposite logically. – DancingQueen Dec 15 '19 at 19:24
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I lower myself to show humbleness.

This has the meaning of your first option: "When I lower myself, I am doing so to show humbleness."


I don't lower myself to show humbleness.

This depends on the context; there are two possible meanings with slight differences in nuance.

If the speaker has not already lowered themselves (or does not intend to) it may mean: "If I need to show humbleness I would not do so by lowering myself. I would show humbleness in another way."

If the speaker has already lowered themselves (or intends to lower themselves) it may mean: "When I lower myself it is not to show humbleness, it is for another reason."

In speech the speaker might stress the word, 'lower', to more clearly convey the first meaning, or the word, 'humbleness', to more clearly convey the second meaning.


I don't lower myself not to show humbleness.

This sentence would not be understood in a typical conversation. Really, the only way it would make sense is if "not to show humbleness" was a parenthetical clause tacked on the end of "I don't lower myself", with a pause between the phrases. When written, the "not to show humbleness" would be placed in parentheses. This would then mean, "I do not lower myself. (Please don't interpret my not-lowering-myself as a sign of humbleness)." Even so it would be a clunky and difficult sentence to understand.

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