I opened the door but I didn't close

  1. I opened the door but didn't close
  2. I opened the door but not closed
  • Which sentence gives the same meaning as in quoted?

  • Do they actually give the same or similar meaning?

  • Or is there any other way?

  • 2
    In I did this but not that, you're "deleting" the verb and the subject (and expecting the audience / reader to assume an implicit ...but I did not do that for "predictably repeated" elements). You can't normally do that kind of "deletion" with the object of the verb. For example, I heard him but I didn't see isn't really valid unless you explicitly repeat the object (...didn't see him). But it's purely a stylistic choice whether to delete the subject there (...but I didn't see him). Both your examples are non-idiomatic / invalid. Jan 24, 2022 at 13:33
  • @FumbleFingers Is there some reason you don't answer the actual question? Also, in this example, what is really missing is it: I opened the door but did not close it. There's no deletion at all. It's a non-repetition of the subject.
    – Lambie
    Jan 24, 2022 at 17:11

4 Answers 4


First of all, you have to add ‘it’ to the end of these phrases;

I opened the door but didn’t close it

Secondly, I opened the door but not closed does not make sense. You’re just saying ‘not close’, which in this case has no relation to the sentence; you would have to say something along the lines of:

I opened the door, but it is not closed, which sounds very unnatural.


If you're really looking to reduce the length of the phrase, you could use

I opened, but didn't close, the door.

In this context, "but" is a coordinating conjunction that combines the verb phrases "opened" and "didn't close" into a single transitive verb phrase, whose object is "the door". Coordinating conjunctions within verb phrases are more commonly formed with "and", "or", or a "neither/nor" pair, such as

I opened and read the letter.

Call or text me when the meeting is over.

Jim neither saw nor heard the robber.

"But" is less commonly used as a coordinating conjunction between verbs than these, but it can be done.

That said, this phrasing is somewhat unnatural. If you said it to me in conversation, it would require a bit of thought to figure out what you meant if spoken. "I opened the door but didn't close it", as suggested by Buzzyy, would be more natural in spoken language. (It would a bit easier to understand in written form because of the punctuation.)

  • 1
    I would expect this in speech only if someone were reading from a script or perhaps in the most formal of contexts, like answering a question under oath. But it would be very much the norm in formal or technical writing where precision and brevity are goals and there is no pretense of a conversational tone.
    – CCTO
    Jan 24, 2022 at 20:00
  • I opened the door but didn't close it.

opened=simple past/did not close=simple past in the negative

The rule is that if you have an action verb like open and close, and the subject is already there in the first clause, you do not need to repeat it. Here, the direct object must appear as it in the second clause.

  • I saw him there but didn't film him.

Again, the object must be repeated not the subject.

  • I don't dislike them or like them.

Don't confuse the passive voice of the verb open with the active: The door was opened by the dog but not closed by it.


If you need to be so specific then I can't see a way of shortening your examples. Context also has a part to play.

Some things you only open, and you don't close. For example "I opened the letter". Other things, such as windows, may be opened for an extended period of time, so "I opened the window" would mean you opened it and left it open until such time that it needed closing.

With doors, as in your example, you have contexts where it may be tacit that you would open it and then close it, such as opening the door to let someone in. Idiomatically, "can you open the door to the mailman" would make one think of opening it, accepting the mail, and then closing it again.

I would say that if you state or imply a purpose for opening a door, it could infer that you left it open, for example "I opened the door for some air".

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .