we discussed how the word not can make some sentences
wordier than necessary and can create neutral and bland
sentences, but not can also enhance the part of a
sentence in which it appears, creating a more emphatic
reading. Varying your word order when you incorporate a
negated idea—using not, of course—can be a great tool
for influencing how your reader interprets or reacts to your
sentences. Also, as Martha Kolln discusses in Rhetorical
Grammar, simply using the un-contracted not
instead of the contraction n't places more stress
on the negative.
Ex. Jon was
not at all impressed by the display of sarcasm his
brother put on during the speech.
at all impressed says the same thing as “unimpressed,”
but in the phrase not at all, the not puts
emphasis on the reading of at all, thus allowing the
writer to exaggerate the degree to which Jon was
Ex. A group
of psychologists urged the organization not to
eliminate its supplemental patient bill funding program.
not to eliminate could be replaced with “to keep,”
but the not changes the urgent request from sounding
like an order for something to be done into sounding
more like a genuine plea for something not to be
done. In other words, it emphasizes the decision against
which the group was working.
conclusion, not is not only useful for basic
negations of verbs (cannot, will not, has
not) or other words, but it is also a useful tool for
emphasizing information differently than would normally be