Negating infinitives in indirect speech

Look at the sentences:

Le professeur dit de ne pas courir
The teacher says not to run

Il est important de ne pas bouger.
It is important not to move.

Il m'a appris à ne pas avoir peur.
He taught me not to be scared.

J'espère ne pas faire d'erreurs.
I hope not to make a mistake.

Note that if a sentence has two verbs but it's the infinitive verb (a verb that's not conjugated) that requires negation, ne pas goes before the infinitive rather than around it.

Note: If there is a pronoun before the infinitive, ne pas precedes it.

Ma mère m'a dit de ne pas le faire
My mother told me not to do it

Je t'ai demandé de ne pas lui dire.
I asked you not to tell him.

 

See also Position of negation with two verbs (conjugated + infinitive) 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

Il m'a appris à ne pas avoir peur.
He taught me not to be scared.


Il est important de ne pas bouger.
It is important not to move.


Je t'ai demandé de ne pas lui dire.
I asked you not to tell him.



J'espère ne pas faire d'erreurs.
I hope not to make a mistake.


Le professeur dit de ne pas courir
The teacher says not to run


when there is a pronoun before the infinitive


Ma mère m'a dit de ne pas le faire
My mother told me not to do it


Q&A

William

Kwiziq community member

15 October 2018

3 replies

Can the infinitive be implied?

Can the infiniive be implied in this construction? For example: J’aurais pu traduire le titre, mais j'ai décidé de ne pas. (I could have translated the title but I decided not to.)

Chris

Kwiziq community member

15 October 2018

15/10/18

No, I don't think that would work in French. You would need to say:

J'aurais pu traduire le titre, mais j'ai décidé de ne pas le traduire. -- I could have translated the title, but I decided not to translate it.

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

16 October 2018

16/10/18

Hi William,

You have to finish the sentence with 'to do it' or it seems unfinished in French.

I would prefer, however, 

"...mais j'ai décidé de ne pas le faire" not to repeat 'traduire' which I was taught to avoid at school...

Hope this helps!

William

Kwiziq community member

16 October 2018

16/10/18

I understand!

Thanks Chris and Cécile

Leah

Kwiziq community member

11 February 2017

5 replies

why isn't it "Premiere erreur de ne pas faire" but is "Premieur erreur a ne pas faire"?

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

13 March 2017

13/03/17

Bonjour Leah !

This is an excellent question.
The difference here relates to impersonal expressions.

Here's the rule:
- When you have a real subject, like "première erreur" - i.e. to do. - and that the infinitive is used intransitively (without a object), then the structure is:
[subject/adjective] + à + [infinitive]

La première chose  à faire... 
The first thing to do... 
C'est bon  à savoir. 
That's good to know. 

- When you have a *dummy* subject - i.e. it is to do - the structure is:
il est/c'est + [adjective] + de + [infinitive]

Il est difficile de parler. / C'est difficile de parler. 
It's hard to talk. 
Il est important de faire confiance à ses amis. 
It's important to trust one's friends.

I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Leah

Kwiziq community member

13 March 2017

13/03/17

Merci beaucoup! Cela m'aide. Hope I can remember it. Best, Leah

helen

Kwiziq community member

25 May 2018

25/05/18

Je t'ai demandé de ne pas lui dire".  If this is a "real subject"and no direct object"wouldn't this be "à"? >> Je t'ai demandé à ne pas lui dire". Are we using de because there's an indirect object?

Leah

Kwiziq community member

25 May 2018

25/05/18

Bonsoir Aurelie,

Merci beaucoup!

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

13 June 2018

13/06/18

Bonjour Helen !

Here it's not a case of impersonal expressions, but a case of reported (or indirect) speech, hence the use of de  : 

Je lui demande de venir.   -> I ask him to come.

Bonne journée !

Susan

Kwiziq community member

9 November 2016

2 replies

When does "de" precede the negated infinitive? In the examples,

it does, except for one, where it doesn't (the example with "à" would explain itself, of course).

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

9 November 2016

9/11/16

Bonjour Susan ! The negation "ne pas" will come after the preposition "de", but in this case: "J'espère ne pas faire D'erreurs." the "d' " is not the preposition, but the partitive "des" which became d' because this is a negative sentence. Think that you say "espérer quelque chose" and not "espérer DE quelque chose". I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Susan

Kwiziq community member

9 November 2016

9/11/16

Preposition and partitive - vive la différence! Thanks for explaining.

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