There are already some similar questions, but I would like to know a more detailed answer about this.

I feel that these sentences are slightly different:

"I think you shouldn't do that"

"I don't think you should do that"

The first seems "I recommend that you don't do that", the second seems "I think it's OK even if you don't do that"

E.g. these sentences are different:

"I think you must not do that" and "I don't think you must do that"

But, I also learned that "not" is often put forward like "I don't think..." and not like "I think you shouldn't...".

If my view above is right, how should I express "I recommend that you won't do that" using "should"?

  • "I recommend that you won't do that"? or do you mean don't?
    – DialFrost
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 5:20
  • @DialFrost I am not sure which I should choose: won't or don't,, I would like to mean that "I believe doing that is not good for you, so, you shouldn't do that." It's a speech for unspecified people, and I don't know "you" have done that before.
    – Nigutumok
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 5:26
  • 1
    using "wont" in your example is wrong, it should be don't!
    – DialFrost
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 5:28
  • @DialFrost Oh, OK! Thank you very much. I will edit. When can I use "won't" in "I recommend that you won't do that"?
    – Nigutumok
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 5:31
  • 1
    E.g. "you won't do that, right?" - using "won't" and "recommend" is very tricky and I recommend not using it
    – DialFrost
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 5:48

2 Answers 2


They both have the same meaning:

I believe that you should not do that

But the second is more preferred and more commonly used. There is no exact reason for this, but it has something to do with putting the negative earlier in the sentence, or:

perhaps it sounds a bit more polite due to its indirectness and implication of possible uncertainty EL&U: I don't think you vs. I think you don't

The question above is similar to this, with the negative word "don't" and "shouldn't" placed near the end or start of the sentence.


You are wrong in your interpretation of I don't think you should do that.

It means either that you would advise against doing something that a person plans to do, or it's a polite way of telling them to stop what they are doing.

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