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Sentence 1. I didn’t know to drive. Sentence 2. I didn’t know how to drive.

Actually I'd like to know what does a native speaker understands when hearing "I didn't know to drive." I know the meaning of the second sentence but I'm not sure about the meaning of the first.

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In my opinion, “I didn’t know to [verb]” has the same meaning as “I didn’t know I was supposed to [verb].”

This is most applicable to children who are still learning about life. It means the speaker was unaware of a societally expected reaction to a given event. This is only valid with proper context, and makes no sense as a stand-alone sentence.

For example: “When I was 4 years old, I ran across the street and almost got hit by a car. I didn’t know to look both ways before crossing.”

Source: Native AE speaker here.

Note: The sentence “I didn’t know to drive” still does not make sense to me, because I cannot think of a situation in which someone would not realize they would be expected to drive.

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“I didn’t know to drive” does not make much sense at all to a native speaker. The second one, however, sounds natural and would normally be said. Basically, to a native, it sounds like an improper sentence, so please use the second option in a conversation.

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  • You could say "I didn't know (enough) to drive on the left side in England, and caused an accident" (with the enough optional). or I didn't know (that I was supposed) to drive through a red light when there is a policeman directing traffic in the intersection" (as police(wo)men take precedence over traffic signals). It is (I think) correct without the extra words (i,e., I didn't know to drive ...), but it is much more common to say "I didn't know I was supposed to drive ..." or "I didn't know I should drive ..."
    – michael
    Apr 30, 2020 at 21:44
  • It is correct to say "i didn't know enough to drive on the left side in England" or "I didn't know I was supposed to drive through a red light when there is a policeman directing traffic in the intersection." But these are adding things to the sentence "I didn't know to drive," which would be ungrammatical by itself. "I didn't know how to drive" is not ungrammatical by itself.
    – Seeker
    May 1, 2020 at 13:17
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"I didn't know to ___" is like saying "I didn't know that I was supposed to ___"

People don't use it in (modern American at least) English very much, but it's correct and people will understand you. For example:

Person 1: Why are you so late?

Person 2: I walked.

Person 1: Why didn't you drive?

Person 2: I didn't know to drive.

But again, you'll sound more native if you say "I didn't know that I was supposed to drive."

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