Instead of

he seems [to] doesn't need the money

(I'm not sure about to)

The grammar editor suggests:

he seems not to need the money

Doesn't need get negative with doesn't?

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    The non-negative version of the sentence is - He seems to need the money. Now you want to turn to need the money into a negative construction. To make a to-infinitive clause into negative all we need to do is add "not" either before or after "to". So the whole sentence becomes - He seems not to need the money. or He seems to not need the money. When need is the main verb (not model verb) of the sentence/clause, the negative is doesn't/don't need. Commented May 27, 2015 at 14:06
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    Thanks @Man_From_India . Very clear comment. I wonder why didn't you just make it an answer. And I don't have the privilege of upvoting comments yet.
    – flower
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 14:18
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    @Man_From_India This would make a good answer. I would also include a suggestion of "He doesn't seem to need the money." Commented May 27, 2015 at 14:18
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    @flower Welcome to the site. It's good practice to wait before accepting an answer to a question. I'm not suggesting that oerkelens's answer is incorrect, just that a superior answer might be forthcoming. :-) Commented May 27, 2015 at 14:19
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    It's not a major issue, just a good habit. Again, I'm not saying that it was a bad answer at all. He doesn't seem to need the money. sounds most natural to my ear. He seems not to need the money. and It seems he doesn't need the money. are perfectly grammatical and idiomatically correct though. There are a number of ways to say this particular sentence. Commented May 27, 2015 at 14:32

1 Answer 1


In general, every verb needs a subject.

In your sentence, the only subject is he, and that subject already has a verb: seems. You can not just add extra verbs to the sentence without extra subjects.

Doesn't does not have a subject in your sentence. He could be the subject, but it already is the subject of seems! If _doesn't also has he as a subject, we have two verbs, and only one subject.

The correct construction to use is verb+to+infinitive, where seems is the verb and need is an infinitive. And to make it negative, you just add not: verb+not+to+infinitive.

I just realized, you may have been thinking of this sentence:

It seems he doesn't need the money.

In that case, it is the subject of seems and he is the subject of doesn't. This is an very different kind of sentence, thanks to that one little extra word!

  • Using don't in place of doesn't was my unintended mistake. I'll edit the question to avoid more complexion. Thanks
    – flower
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 14:12
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    But also be aware that, particularly in informal speech, the subject or object of a verb can be implied, that is, not stated explicitly. So be a bit careful in applying "every verb needs a subject". To be fair, the statement was prefaced by "In general" - this is one of the exceptions. Commented May 27, 2015 at 14:52

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