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I'm not referring to the use of "ne...pas" or any of that; I'm curious about the use of the word "not" as a standalone.

For example, saying "addicted to speed, not the drug but ..."

or any variant. Is it "non...pas?" or is it still "ne...pas"?

or like "no, not the drug..."


If so, then could someone explain to me when I'd use "non pas?" or "non" for purposes other than saying "no?"


I hope I have been clear with my question; I am not asking how to make a negative of a verb but rather, I am referring to the use of "not" and negatives as a standalone...


Thank you in advance

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First of all, in your example does involve verbs.  In English, we can abbreviate a lot of phrases by leaving out implied verb forms.  In saying "I am addicted to speed, not the drug but...", we really mean "I am addicted to speed; I am not addicted to the drug, but..."  We have to use "not" in relation to something else.  "Not" does not stand alone.  We would never say "not drugs allowed", but must say "No drugs allowed."

That being said, in French, I believe, the use of "pas de" would be used:  "Pas du drogue, mais..." would resolve your issue above.  In a shop, if you buy something and don't want a bag to carry it in, you say, "pas du sac, s'il vous plait."

I may be wrong, but "pas de" (pas du, pas de la) just sounds right ti me.

When you want to say "not" and there's no verb, then you can practically always use pas on its own:

  J'ai acheté "Le Monde", pas "France Soir".

  Fatigué ou pas fatigué, il faut terminer ce travail.

  Fatigué ou pas, il faut terminer ce travail.

  Où vivez-vous? Pas très loin de Lyon.

In cases where you're directly opposing two things, then for emphasis you can use non pas rather than just pas:

  C'est un iPhone, (non) pas un Blackberry.

  Je viens de Paris, (non) pas de Lyon.

In reality, this is probably only common in quite formal use, though. Again in quite formal use, you can usually use non on its own in pretty much all of these cases, but the main case where this would be common is where you're effectively saying "or not":

  Fatigué ou non, il faut terminer ce travail.

But as a golden rule to start off with, you can usually use pas in all of these cases.


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