"no + gerund" or "not + gerund"



In order to compare them, I wrote below sentences:

  1. Reading books is the solution not watching TV [a moral advice].
  2. Reading books is the solution no watching TV [a moral advice].
  3. I considered not going to that party.
  4. I considered no going to that party

I know that no is used with noun phrases and we must use not in the other situations. The question is that a gerund (phrase) acts as a noun (phrase), but I do not think the second and fourth sentences are correct. Perhaps, because my ears are more familiar with the not+verb+ing due to the fact that I see negative present progressive more often. I am not sure, would you help me

Added Information: In order to be more specific, I changed gerunds to gerund phrases and noun to noun phrase.


Posted 2016-06-26T10:31:06.683

Reputation: 5 877


  • Reading books is the solution to not watching TV.
  • < – Alan Carmack – 2016-06-26T10:34:19.573

    2 and 4 are incorrect. We just don't use no in this context. – Alan Carmack – 2016-06-26T10:35:08.250

    @AlanCarmack So the generalization that I previously faced in grammar lessons seem to be wrong, "We use no before a noun phrase". Or considering a gerund as a noun phrase is a fatal error – Cardinal – 2016-06-26T10:36:59.883

    2In Modern English grammar verb + ing is categorized into three classes - 1. Gerundial noun (you can use no with it), 2. Gerund-Participle form of verb 3. Participle adjectives. – Man_From_India – 2016-06-26T11:32:21.270

    @Man_From_India so you reject AlanCarmack's comment ? – Cardinal – 2016-06-26T11:33:23.183

    @Cardinal I didn't read his comments. Now reading them, I agree with what he already said. My comment above was in response to your comment about generalization. – Man_From_India – 2016-06-26T11:35:17.023

    @Man_From_India I think you can use no with it and We just don't use no in this context do not convey similar things – Cardinal – 2016-06-26T11:41:26.497

    1@Cardinal They are not same thing. But see I have written that line in a bracket after Gerundial Noun to mean that no can be used with only Gerundial Nouns. In traditional grammar you have gerund and participle, but in modern grammar you will get only Gerund Participle. I have mentioned verb + ing can be classified into three distinct classes. It will help avoiding ambiguity. – Man_From_India – 2016-06-26T11:48:05.617



    Consider the following:

    There was no scaling that steep cliff.

    Going around the mountain was the sane choice, not scaling that steep cliff.

    The first means that the cliff was impossible to scale. The second simply refers to the action of scaling as a non-choice, a thing that exists but which is rejected.

    There was no reasoning with them.

    It was impossible to reason with them.

    no + the -ing form denies the very existence of the -ing nominal.

    It is used with existential statements.

    not + the -ing form accepts the existence of the -ing nominal, but negates its presence here (in this context).

    He said he liked fishing, not hunting.

    He thought fishing was acceptable, but said there should be no hunting.

    He did not see them off:

    His not seeing them off on their journey made them sad.

    It was impossible to see them off:

    He was in another country on a business trip. There was no seeing them off.


    Posted 2016-06-26T10:31:06.683

    Reputation: 116 610

    That is why your examples revolves around "to be" and "there be". I mean you said we should use no to reject any possibility of existence. Thank you – Cardinal – 2016-06-26T12:55:18.063

    1The lifeguard wanted (there to be) no running at the swim club pool. I will try to think of a sentence where no + -ing is not existential. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-06-26T13:18:58.057

    1@TRomano and you could end up with the same thing Man_From_India's suggested: gerundial nouns. ;-) – Damkerng T. – 2016-06-26T15:13:55.657

    1It might be worth adding that no + gerund is also used to prohibit actions (I'm not sure if this counts as the imperative mood or not). E.g., "No Smoking" – Todd Wilcox – 2016-06-26T17:20:26.283

    @ToddWilcox Even that is existential, though. The fuller sentence is, "No smoking is permitted, given that passive verbs are really copulatives with the past participle. – None – 2016-12-14T23:01:29.963


    In modern English grammar, verb + ing is catogarized into three classes:

    • Gerundial Noun

    • Gerund-Participle

    • Participle Adjective

    So whether no or not will come immediately before a verb + ing will depend on which class the ing form of verb falls into. Let's make it more clear: it's only before Gerundial Noun that no occurs.

    So it boils down to identifying the class of verb + ing. If we know which class they are in, we can easily tell whether no or not will be correct before it.

    1. No hunting is allowed here. [Gerundial Noun]

    2. He is the host today, and he is entertaining his guests. [Gerund-Participle form of verb]

    3. He is good at entertaining the guests. [Gerund-Participle form of verb]

    4. It was an entertaining show. [Participle Adjective]

    5. The show is entertaining. [Ambiguous]

    First we will see the difference between a Gerundial Noun and Gerund-Participle form of verb, later we will focus on the difference between Gerund-Participle form of verb and Participle Adjectives.

    Gerundial Noun vs Gerund Participle form of verb:

    Both Gerundial Noun and Gerund-Participle has the structure of verb + ing. Here's the difference -

    • When Gerund-Participle is formed from transitive verb + ing, it normally takes a Noun Phrase (NP) object, but a Gerundial Noun formed from the same verb don't take NP complement.

    Hunting the rhinos is a crime. [Hunting is a Gerund-Participle of verb, it takes a NP - the rhinos]

    Hunting of rhino is not allowed here. [Hunting here is a Gerundial Noun, and hence it doesn't take a NP complement. It however takes a Prepositional Phrase (PP) as complement - of rhino]

    • A Gerund-Participle of verb can take predicative complement but a Gerundial Noun can't.

    I am surprised at being asked about such thing.

    Here being is not a Gerundial Noun, it's a Gerund-Participle form of verb, because it takes a predicative complement after it.

    • Modifier - Gerundial Nouns can be modified by an adjective, but not by an adverb. On the other hand a Gerund-Participle is modified by an adverb.

    Ali was ordered to be hanged for mercilessly killing two innocent students. [killing here is a Gerund-Participle of verb, and it's modified by an adverb - mercilessly.]

    Ali was ordered to hanged for merciless killing of two innocent students. [killing here is a Gerundial Noun and it's being modified by an adjective - merciless.]

    • Determiner - The and other comparable determinatives occur with Gerundial Nouns, but not with Gerund-Participle of verb.

    Students, concentrate on your lesson. No talking among yourselves. [Here talking is a Gerundial Noun and it takes a determinative - no - before it.]

    Everyone believes Messi's decision of retirement from International football is an impulsive one, and it resulted from the shattering of hopes. [shattering here is a Gerundial Noun, and determinative - the - can easily sit before it.]

    • Plural inflection - Gerundial Noun can have plural inflection, but a Gerund-Participle can never have.

    The killings of birds ... [Here killing is a Gerundial Noun]

    *Killings the birds is not acceptable. [Here killing is a Gerund-Participle of verb, and hence no plural inflection is allowed.]

    Gerund-Participle form of verb vs Participle Adjective:

    • Normally Gerund-Participle form of verb can take NP complement, but Participle Adjectives don't.

    The whole experience was frightening. [Here frightening is a Participle Adjective.]

    Reading only textbooks wouldn't help. [Here reading is a Gerun-Participle of verb, and it takes a NP - only textbooks as a complement.]

    • The word - seem - can take Participle Adjective after it.

    The show seemed entertaining. [Here entertaining is a Participle Adjective.]

    • Participle Adjective can be modified by very and too.

    The show was very entertaining. [Entertaining here is a Participle Adjective.]

    Hybrid Construction -

    Stop constant mixing the conflicting ideas.

    What mixing is here? It takes a NP - the conflicting ideas - as complement. At the same time it's being modified by an adjective - constant. In one hand it's a Gerund-Participle of verb, but on the other hand it's a Gerundial Noun. This type of construction is called Hybrid construction. The sentence quoted above with hybrid construction is marginally accepted. But the sentence below is widely accepted one -

    There is no denying the fact.

    This denying taking NP - the fact. In that respect it's a Gerund-Participle form of verb. On the other hand it takes a determiner no just like a Gerundial Noun. such use of no is normally restricted to existential constructions with there.

    Some sentences people here asked which they were not sure why no or not comes before verb + ing -

    • I'm surprised at not being asked about it.

    We have already seen that Gerund-Participle form of verb can take a predicative complement. Here being took a predicative complement - asked about it. Here being is a Gerund-Participle form of verb and hence not comes before it.

    • Now I understand that not going to the party was a big mistake.

    Let's try to insert a predicative complement with going in that sentence. What about poorly dressed? So the sentence would look like this - *Now I understand that (not) **going* to the party poorly-dressed was a big mistake.* So here also going is a Gerund-Participle form of verb and hence not is correct.

    • His not seeing them off made them sad.

    Here seeing take a NP - them off. There is no doubt but that seeing here is a Gerund-Participle form of verb. So not is correct.

    • The best thing about a holiday is not working.

    Here working don't take any complement. But try inserting an adverb with it. The best thing about holiday is working slowly. As working is being modified by an adverb, it's an indication that working here is a Gerund-Participle of verb. So not is acceptable.

    • Walking but not running was done today.

    I don't like to cite this example when explaining verb + ing and whether no or not would come before it. Because this sentence contains ellipsis. The full version of the sentence would be - Walking was done today, but running was not done. This sentence is similar to Bob came, but Hary did not come. => Bod came, but not Hary.


    Posted 2016-06-26T10:31:06.683

    Reputation: 10 615

    (+1) I learned other classification: gerund phrase, present participle, and adjective, I think you went farther. I mean you consider two different type of gerund phrases: gerundial noun and gerund participle. I have never seen such categorization so far. BTW, thank you for the answer – Cardinal – 2016-06-27T18:06:16.540

    @Cardinal I have completed my answer. Please read it. If any confusion, reply me back. – Man_From_India – 2016-06-30T16:27:44.427

    1I didn't read it yet. I just want to thank you for your contributions to this question. I really appreciate that. Now, I'm going to read the answer. – Cardinal – 2016-06-30T16:35:44.430

    So, using your techniques, one can distinguish between the correct usage of no and not. Especially, using an adverb and NP complement. It was really helpful. But, as a learner I think I couldn't even use such complex sentences currently and I think the existential case is the most common case for me in which I would use no +gerund. But, I think this answer can help many others (Or probably me in near future). Many Thanks – Cardinal – 2016-06-30T17:50:58.887

    @Araucaria but most hybrid constructions are marginally accepted except the existential sentence with there. – Man_From_India – 2016-07-01T00:17:01.147

    Hmmm, good post. But "it's only before Gerundial Noun that no occurs" <--. But in our hybrid construction that you mention, it is not a gerundial noun! It's a verb. (I've plus 1ed you, but the real answer to the hybrid problem is that there is no good answer. No good [i.e. clear] analysis has ever been given!) – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2016-07-01T05:32:23.823

    @Man_From_India Btw, your first hybrid example isn't grammatical old bean. – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2016-07-01T05:34:51.653

    @Araucaria thank you for reading my answer with such patience. I really have problem coming up with a correct sentence with hybrid construction. If I can't find, I will copy the sentence from books :P – Man_From_India – 2016-07-02T15:00:13.047


    Gerunds are nouns. Participles are modifiers. Both are th base verb + ing.

    No modifies nouns (it's an adjective/determiner) and not modifies verbs or other participles (it's an adverb).

    Modifiers can follow to be and a few other verbs because these are copular verbs.

    No walking was done today.

    I tried to find the girl not walking.

    I was not walking today.

    Not walking was done today (wrong).

    It can be complicated. But generally if the -ing word is not right in front of a verb, then it's probably a modifier.

    Not walking, but running was done today. (This is okay, not walking is a phrase that technically modifies the entire rest of the sentence I think.)

    Running, not walking, was done today. (Not walking qualifies running)

    No file cleaning but deleting was done today. (This works only because deleting is a type of cleaning. But deleting is the modifier of the noun cleaning.)


    Posted 2016-06-26T10:31:06.683

    Reputation: 31 841

    So "Not/No walking your dog everyday is not a good thing" - "No" or "Not"? – Man_From_India – 2016-06-26T16:04:01.777

    @Man_From_India In that case, not is correct. Also, everyday and every day are two different things. In your example, every day is correct and everyday isn't. – Todd Wilcox – 2016-06-26T17:22:11.243

    @ToddWilcox thanks for correcting me. But this answer says "gerund is a noun and participles are modifier, and both are the base verb + ing". In the sentence I mentioned in my previous comment, "walking" is not a modifier. Then it has to be a gerund according to the logic of this answer and if that's true it's a noun and it naturally should take no before it in that sentence also. Isn't it? – Man_From_India – 2016-06-26T23:27:19.093

    The answer also mentions "It can be complicated. But generally if the -ingword is not right in front of a verb, then it's probably a modifier." So if it holds true in my sentence "walking" is a modifier? Then "walking" in this sentence also a modifier - No walking of dog is allowed here? If that walking is a modifier, it means it's a participle, if that holds true, how no comes before a participle? It should be not, right? – Man_From_India – 2016-06-26T23:34:15.307

    In "No file cleaning" you placed a noun between "no" and "gerund". This can be easily justified by the old rule of "no with noun phrases". I mean it is not problematic. – Cardinal – 2016-06-26T23:38:54.167

    @Cardinal right, but what about the sentences I mentioned in my comments above under this answer? – Man_From_India – 2016-06-26T23:48:04.227

    @Man_From_India what is the problem. It is not in front of any verb so it is modifier. Consequently we should use *not* if we want to be loyak to this answer – Cardinal – 2016-06-27T00:20:02.757

    @Man_from_India but, personaly, I think walking is a gerund not a present participe and (not) walking your dog .... is a gerund phtase – Cardinal – 2016-06-27T00:33:03.170

    @Cardinal So doesn't it complicate the rule? And what about "No/not walking of the dog is allowed". – Man_From_India – 2016-06-27T01:08:22.830

    @Cardinal (not) walking your dog... is a gerund phrase, but still we have to use not? Why not no? – Man_From_India – 2016-06-27T01:10:26.900

    @Man_From_India I have no idea, that is why I asked this question – Cardinal – 2016-06-27T04:37:49.143

    @Cardinal Yes that's the problem with this answer. Does this answer help you in any way? – Man_From_India – 2016-06-27T05:37:01.360

    @Man_From_India I don't know all the grammar rules behind it, if there even are any. I just know that the following are correct and you would never hear/read a native speaker choose otherwise: "Not walking your dog every day is not a good idea", and "No walking of dogs is allowed." – Todd Wilcox – 2016-06-27T06:10:44.073

    1@ToddWilcox That's okay, but does it really help a learner whose native language is not English? – Man_From_India – 2016-06-27T06:21:47.337

    @Man_From_India I think Tromano's answer is completely acceptable, did you see that? – Cardinal – 2016-06-27T06:27:13.617

    2"Gerund are nouns" <---. Lawrence, that's not correct. Gerunds are gerund-participle forms of verbs that are fulfilling the same function as noun phrases often do. So they are verb forms that are busy being Subjects or Objects or Complements of prepositions. They are still verbs. – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2016-06-27T08:24:17.890

    @Cardinal I don't think I have understood completely what he meant by those things he mentioned while distinguishing the difference of meaning between "not + v ing" and "no + v ing". It's up to you, if it makes sense to you. And of course if it solves your problem. – Man_From_India – 2016-06-27T08:37:12.507


    There's some serious confusion in your question and, accordingly, in some of the answers as well. And all the confusion lies in the fact that your logic is seriously misguided and flawed.

    The first "wrong" premise: "No" is used with noun phrases and we must use "not" in the other situations.

    The second "wrong" premise: A gerund acts as a noun.

    The "wrong" conclusion: Therefore, "no" should be used with a gerund.

    In order to show that the first premise is wrong, here are counterexamples where "not" is used with a noun phrase, "no" non-noun phrases.

    (a) Not all usage notes in dictionaries are reliable.

    (b) The conclusion is no better than the premises.

    And here is a counterexample to the second premise that a gerund acts as a noun.

    (c) Reading books is the solution, not watching TV.

    Yes, that's your own example, except for the comma before "not." Here, 'reading' and 'watching' are both gerunds. Now, do they both act as a noun? If so, "reading books" and "watching TV" both must be compound nouns, as in "English books" and "LED TV". Unfortunately, though, neither "reading books" nor "watching TV" can be considered a compound noun in your example. So it's inherently wrong to say that a gerund acts as a noun.

    I guess what you were trying to say was that a gerund phrase (such as "reading books" and "watching TV") acts as a noun phrase, which is entirely different from saying "a gerund acts as a noun."

    Remember, if either of the two premises is wrong, you can never obtain the right logical conclusion. So, unless you can prove that both the two premises are right, your conclusion doesn't mean anything, leading only to more confusing answers.


    Posted 2016-06-26T10:31:06.683

    Reputation: 1 055

    Welcome to ELL. Your guess is true but, I think It is obvious that reading book is a gerund phrase. I intended to avoid using jargon- abridging the gerund phrases to gerund, noun phrases to noun which is very common here in ELL. Moreover, Not a ,Not all and none and others of that ilk are blatantly irrelevant examples here. You could see the my comments below the question and answers and you could understand that I know which is a gerund phrase, which is a present participle and which is a adjective. Thank you for mentioning the errors. – Cardinal – 2016-06-29T09:59:20.457

    1I will down-vote this answer since it is more a protracted comment than an answer. – Cardinal – 2016-06-29T10:20:50.413

    @Cardinal You have not provided any reason why you think that "Not a, Not all, none, etc" are irrelevant. I suggest that there might be more to what you write off as irrelevant than meets the eye. Moreover, you haven't rebutted the fact that "no" can be used to negate not just noun phrases as shown in example (b). – JK2 – 2016-06-29T10:30:34.970

    It's not that you don't know the exact meanings of a gerund phrase, present participle, and what not. It's just that your oversimplification of the so-called "rule" is at the heart of your question, and that the illogicality arising from the oversimplification causes all the confusion both in your question and all the other answers. – JK2 – 2016-06-29T10:30:40.253

    And that's exactly why you won't be able to be satisfied with any of the answers as long as those answers are based on your false premises. – JK2 – 2016-06-29T10:32:57.403

    In fact one the answers completely satisfied me. btw, not all (of) is something different from not. Thats why I think it is irrelevant. In the case of b, I must work on it although it sounds odd to me. You can say something is not good or whatever or something is no longer better than ... . I'm working on it. – Cardinal – 2016-06-29T10:40:27.677

    Also, I edited the question – Cardinal – 2016-06-29T10:41:36.197

    It is cool bro, I am a leaner. There is no doubt that I make mistakes. But, I think most of persons specially who answered the question were able to understand my intention. – Cardinal – 2016-06-29T10:49:00.790

    In fact, since these people who are natives among them didn't criticize the question. This made me think the question is OK. BTW, I, personally, eagerly want to be specific, especially in grammar issues. In general, I accept the deficiencies of the question. But, I get used to ask (rarely answer) such questions on ELL – Cardinal – 2016-06-29T10:55:49.933

    @jk Do you know why no is not used in this sentence - Not all usage notes in dictionaries are reliable.? And why it's not there? – Man_From_India – 2016-06-29T12:46:14.323

    1@jk why no here, but not not in here - The conclusion is no better than the premises.? – Man_From_India – 2016-06-29T12:47:32.090

    1@jk As you have mentioned that other answers are wrong, what's wrong with my answer? – Man_From_India – 2016-06-29T12:48:22.287

    1@jk this answer doesn't help OP, I guess. All it does is make him more confused. You haven't explained anything. – Man_From_India – 2016-06-29T12:51:13.627

    @Man_From_India How does it make the OP (more) confused when you point out the fundamental flaw in the question? Like I clearly laid out in my answer, the gist of the OP's question is based on some flawed premises. Maybe you might try to answer the question anyway, ignoring the flaws, but that's not exactly answering the question itself. – JK2 – 2016-06-29T16:12:25.100

    @Man_From_India Take your own answer, and I quote, "it's only before Gerundial Noun that no occurs." If so, in TRomano's example "There was no scaling that steep cliff," the "scaling" is a gerundial noun? Wait, what did you say about the gerundial noun? You said, "a Gerundial Noun formed from the same verb don't take NP complement." Now, the "scaling" does take an NP complement "that steep cliff", doesn't it? So, how it is that the OP can make any sense out of all this mess is just beyond me, to say the least. – JK2 – 2016-06-29T16:20:25.653

    @JK2 You forgot one important thing. OP is not a native speaker of English, he is learning a new language. He's trying to find some way to overcome some of his problems. Some of his concepts need to be modified, I know. But it's not his fault, many grammar text books contain such info. But that doesn't mean you will show him more of those example sentences which trouble already him without providing any way to solve his problem. – Man_From_India – 2016-06-29T16:23:36.173

    @JK2 Ah I got it. First my answer is not complete. Second that sentence is different. It's an existential sentence with there at the subject position. You would normally find no there. – Man_From_India – 2016-06-29T16:28:01.617

    @Man_From_India Sorry to say this, but it's not just incomplete but illogical, just as the OP's question is. As long as you ignore this apparent illogicality, all these rules after rules -- and even some more terms and more new rules -- won't get you and the OP anywhere. All you get is a longer list of exceptions to all those rules after rules. At some point, you'll have to admit that it just doesn't add up. – JK2 – 2016-06-29T16:34:47.270

    1@JK2 you're somewhat right. But if that was the case, "grammar" wouldn't have come into existence in the first place. – Man_From_India – 2016-06-29T16:37:22.337