Should I say: She is 'no' student or She is 'not' a student?



I'm always confused with that issue. Should I say

She is no student


She is not a student

Or are both of them equal? If they are, what is the difference between them?

Judicious Allure

Posted 2015-10-19T17:42:24.877

Reputation: 24 598

1If you use "not", you need an article: "she is not *a* student". – Victor Bazarov – 2015-10-19T17:46:27.213

I forgot to put the article 'a'. I edited it thanks to you. – Judicious Allure – 2015-10-19T18:35:31.867

You might also hear "She is no student of mine," indicating that she may be a student, but the speaker does not teach her. – skeggse – 2015-10-19T18:55:42.707

Compare "That's no moon". They're both valid usage but "That's not a moon" would have been less emphatic.

– A E – 2015-10-19T18:59:17.967


Famously: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.

– snailplane – 2015-10-19T19:01:05.647

Using "not a" is far more common in daily usage, if you're trying to decide between the two. – Jason Patterson – 2015-10-20T01:18:21.787

@skeggse No! "She's no student of mine" indicates much more than that she might be a student but not the speaker's student. It's a very strong statement suggesting that the speaker is offended that you even thought she was their student. "She's not a student of mine" means that she's not the speaker's student but says nothing about whether she's somebody else's student. If you wanted to be really unambiguous, you should say, "I don't know if she's a student; she's not a student of mine." – David Richerby – 2015-10-20T11:58:49.417

The "She is no student", besides empathic, sounds more archaic. You will find it much more frequently in old texts, while "not a" will be more common in modern ones. – SF. – 2015-10-20T12:26:41.337

2@SF "emphatic" (with force), not "empathic" (with empathy). :-) – David Richerby – 2015-10-20T12:35:50.220

@David Richerby yeah that makes sense. I was imagining a specific intonation when I wrote that comment, which makes it sound archaic without adding all that subtext. I'd say you could do something similar with "not a" as well. – skeggse – 2015-10-20T17:56:55.223

They are not the same. "She is not a student" means she isn't enrolled. "She is no student" means she is incapable or unwilling to be a suitable student. – Tony Ennis – 2015-10-21T02:01:01.563



You can say either one, but they have different effects.

"She is not a student" is a simple statement of fact. "She is no student" is usually an emphatic statement, which only really makes sense when you're denying somebody else's implication that she's a student. For example, if one professor says, "A student asked me a question about [some crackpot theory] after yesterday's lecture," another professor might say, "She's no student! She's just some woman who slips into lectures so she can ask her crazy questions." You could also use it figuratively, to mean that she's such a bad student that she doesn't deserve the name: "Mary? Ha! She's no student. I mean, she pays her fees and comes to lectures but have you ever seen her actually study anything? I haven't!"

David Richerby

Posted 2015-10-19T17:42:24.877

Reputation: 7 931

Irish here. I doubt it. I'd find that construction equally emphatic, and would be very surprised to hear it used for simple negation. – TRiG – 2015-10-20T11:53:39.687

I'd perhaps emphasise your first sentence to state that while both are valid, they are very different usages. You kind of say this, but "They have different effects" is a little soft, IMO. – Jon Story – 2015-10-21T14:51:56.627

In a famous example of this, Dan Quayle, while running for VP, would routinely say that he had as much experience as Jack Kennedy did when he was running for president. To which Lloyd Bentsen responded "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." – BobRodes – 2016-03-06T05:50:41.513

Four years later, 81-year-old Ronald Reagan made fun of this after Bill Clinton compared himself to Thomas Jefferson, saying "This fellow they've nominated claims he's the new Thomas Jefferson. Well, let me tell you something. I knew Thomas Jefferson. He was a friend of mine. And governor, you're no Thomas Jefferson." – BobRodes – 2016-03-06T05:51:58.687


You can say "She is no student."

This "style" is usually used for emphasis.

She is no student! She's an imposter, just a journalist trying to get her story!"

You cannot say "She is not student". Here you need an article. Your edit makes your example correct.

She is not a student.

James Webster

Posted 2015-10-19T17:42:24.877

Reputation: 1 472

2The question was updated to correct the "not a student" part. Looks like that was a typo. You may need to revise your answer accordingly. – Moby Disk – 2015-10-19T21:22:58.530


The first sentence can mean that she is not a student despite seeming like one. Or that she did a bad job at being a student. This is a bit of a strong statement.

The second sentence is not grammatical. It should be

She is not a student.

The meaning of this sentence is self-explanatory.

To sum up, the two sentences do not mean identical things.


Posted 2015-10-19T17:42:24.877

Reputation: 4 502

1The first could also have a meaning of "While she is enrolled in the university, her behaviors are unbecoming of a student" or "With her behavior, I wouldn't expect her to be a student for long". You're right that either way it's a strong (and particularly offensive) statement. – corsiKa – 2015-10-19T23:18:58.090


The two statements have very different connotations. "She is not a student" simply means what it says: "she is not a student, she is employed as a cleaner". While "She is no student" probably means something like "She might be registered as a student, but she's making no effort to study"

Michael Kay

Posted 2015-10-19T17:42:24.877

Reputation: 869

I already said all of that in my answer, two hours before you. – David Richerby – 2015-10-19T23:45:52.653


I am an educated native speaker of American English. In both British English and American English, I believe, "She is no student" is usually a flippant judgment, while "She is not a student" does not imply any moral judgment, unless the judgment is implied by tone of voice.

John Hickey

Posted 2015-10-19T17:42:24.877

Reputation: 94


"She is not a student" is just a statement, stating that she is not a student at all.
"She is no student" can mean different things, and is more empathic.

"She is no student" can mean that she does not study at all, she does not participate in projects, or even she does not even go to the school. It can generally mean "She does not act like a student" or "She is not a student".


She neither studies nor she does her homework. She is no student!


She hasn't ever written an essay, so she is no student.

But you can't say:

She hasn't ever written an essay, so she is not a student.


Posted 2015-10-19T17:42:24.877

Reputation: 190


The two different sentences She is 'no' student or She is 'not' a student are different in their meaning. And can be used accordingly based on the context that you have.

1.She is 'no' student

This sentence means that someone is pretending like a student, who is actually not a student.

2.She is 'not' a student

This sentence is more clear and precise to say without any doubt that the person who is referred here (He or She), is not a student.

The following explanation will give you a short introductions to situations where these words are used.

The proper and formal pronunciation is to spell like:

  • She is not a student.

Difference between no and not

We can make a word, expression or clause negative by putting not before it.

  • I do not intend to resign.
  • Ask James, not his wife.
  • Not surprisingly, they got divorced within a couple of months.
  • You can come tomorrow, but not on Friday.

No is used in a different way. It is used with a noun or an –ing form to mean ‘not any’.

  • No students joined the program. (= There weren’t any students who joined the program.)
  • No man is perfect. (= There aren’t any perfect men.)
  • She has got no children. (= She hasn’t got any children.)
  • I have got no money to buy food. (= I haven’t got any money to buy food.)

In some cases the structures verb + not and no + noun can have similar meanings.

  • There wasn’t any reply. = There was no reply.


Complete the following sentences not or no.

1) We have ______ money.
2) It is ______ true.
3) He is ______ stupid.
4) She has got ______ friends.
5) She has ______ got any money.


1) We have no money.
2) It is not true.
3) He is no stupid.
4) She has got no friends.
5) She has not got any money.

Praveen George

Posted 2015-10-19T17:42:24.877

Reputation: 189

This doesn't relate to not/no being used after the to be verb and before a noun, which is what this question was about. – v010dya – 2015-10-20T11:32:50.263

Praveen@ yes, it was. I ranked your answer up. – Judicious Allure – 2015-10-20T11:38:49.700

1You can say "He is no idiot", but "He is no stupid" would not be standard; "stupid" can be a noun in that way, but is rare. – mattdm – 2015-10-20T14:11:17.287

1Your opening statement makes it sound like "She is no student" is improper or informal, neither of which is true. The rest of your answer might be helpful to a learner, though. – J.R. – 2015-10-20T20:30:28.270

@J.R. Thanks for the edit, anyway within my limited knowledge I tried to help, which resulted in down voting and loss of reputation – Praveen George – 2015-10-21T04:51:56.473

1@PraveenG - Don't take downvoting so personally. It happens. And you haven't really lost reputation. You got one upvote (which gives you 10 points) and three downvotes (which gives you -6), so, in the end, you stilll gained reputation for your efforts. – J.R. – 2015-10-21T08:56:42.290

@all down voters : better you guys explain why you down voted my answer, you goons. – Praveen George – 2016-01-14T08:03:23.173


After I cheeked this issue on so called a professional book of grammar (see below) I found these things:

"Negative statements are formed with the help of 'not' and 'no'

NOT + verb, or + many / much / a lot of

NO + adjective, or + noun, or + negative short answer

"Guess the difference and give at least one contextual sentence: "She is not a student" 2. She is no student" end of quotation.

These things are from "English grammar for university students" (Harkiv 2010. p. 8)

Now, I don't understand the rull that "not" comes with verb etc. while in our case is not+ noun rather than not+ verb.

Judicious Allure

Posted 2015-10-19T17:42:24.877

Reputation: 24 598

3I don't see how this answers the question. You seem to be saying that you tried to find the answer in a textbook but didn't understand what it said. If so, you should ask about that in a new question. – David Richerby – 2015-10-20T09:25:27.430

I see what was the problem in my comment. I edited it and maybe now it will be better and clearer for you. – Judicious Allure – 2015-10-20T18:37:19.950