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 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


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


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 Forum 5 questions, 15 answers

In the sentence J'espère ne pas faire d'erreurs, can't we say instead: J'espère DE ne pas faire d'erreurs?

Asked 1 month ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

Hi Chioma, 

Normally you will not have a 'de' after espérer and another verb as in to hope to do.

It is archaïc and you will find it mainly in literature...

J'espère ne pas vous avoir fait attendre trop longtemps pour répondre à votre question....

Bonne continuation!

Merci beaucoup!

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RonC1

Is there going to be an in depth lesson on the prepositions “de” “a” or no preposition?

Asked 3 months ago

Some verbs simply use à others use de and some can use both. It is something you have to learn together with the verb.

CécileKwiziq language super star

I am working on a list of verbs which are followed by 'à' or 'de' but not sure if that would be useful on its own as very very long....

It would be helpful, n'importe how long or short. :) 

Do share, please. 

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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.)
Asked 8 months ago
CécileKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

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!

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.

I understand!

Thanks Chris and Cécile

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

Asked 4 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

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 !

AurélieKwiziq language super starCorrect answer

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

Bonsoir Aurelie,

Merci beaucoup!

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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).
Asked 7 years ago
AurélieKwiziq language super star
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 !
Preposition and partitive - vive la différence! Thanks for explaining.

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Getting that for you now.