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Which is correct? Why?

  • Not enough memory
  • No enough memory

The first variant seems to be significantly more popular on the Internet than the second one.

I want to use such construction as an error message in the program. I think it is a short version of the sentence "There is not enough memory".

  • The second one sounds plain wrong to me. – MadWard Jul 1 '16 at 8:13
  • @MadWard I think that it is wrong, too. But why? I can't find any good reference. – Constructor Jul 1 '16 at 8:18
  • This site right here is a good reference. And here is what this site right here has to say: "No enough" is not English. No native speaker would ever use it, ever, at all. – ЯegDwight Jul 1 '16 at 8:58
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    Consider, "Insufficient memory" [for this operation] – Violette Jul 1 '16 at 9:14
  • @ЯegDwight Google Ngram Viewer shows small statistics on 'no enough' phrase. Is it full of mistakes and typos? – Constructor Jul 1 '16 at 9:26
5

No goes in front of nouns to negate them, and not goes in front of adjectives or phrases to negate them. Not the other way around.

This is one of English's less flexible rules. The second sentence sounds very wrong.

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  • @Constructor wait. What about this sentence - "it's no big deal.? – Man_From_India Jul 2 '16 at 4:09
  • The additional answer that mentions a determiner explains this. The determiner of a noun, which is a type of adjective, always comes first, then adjectives that modify the noun, then the noun. So in no big deal, no is the determiner of (and modifies) deal, not big. Think of "no" as in the same category of words as articles. – LawrenceC Jul 2 '16 at 17:21
3

The structure of the Noun Phrase you quoted is like this -

(Modifier + Determiner) + Head Noun

Head Noun -> Memory

Determiner -> Enough

Modifier of determiner -> Not

Not here is an adverb and it functions as a modifier of determiner - enough. The word - no - can't function like that. No itself is a determiner.

So here the correct Noun Phrase would be - Not enough memory. Using no in place of not is plain wrong.

Now one problem is there. If you are the one who determines the parts of speech of a word from dictionary, you might get confused looking at the entry of enough in various dictionaries, online or offline. Because some dictionary says this particular word a determiner, some says it's an adjective. And some says it's both. And my answer says it's a determiner. So who is right and who is wrong. If it's an adjective, and not a determiner my answer is wrong, because my answer is based on the conclusion that enough is a determiner, not an adjective. We will see the reason behind my claim that it's a determiner.

One thing that I have learned from here, and that's a very important lesson is that dictionary is never a place to look for the parts of speech of a word.

enough - Adjective or determiner?

  • Enough can come before an adjective in a NP structure like a determiner.

  • Enough is not gradable.

  • Enough can take place in partitive construction - We have enough of gun power.

So I concluded taking whatever is written above that enough is a determiner.

My another answer here says more about it.

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