Previous studies have found that the negation of ideas is a more complex process than affirmation.
With that being said, it may lead to false retention of information in worst-case scenarios.
When information is falsely associated with, counter-productive effects may occur, especially in more serious cases such as legally-related ones.
In the crowded community of written words and paragraphs, the role of punctuation marks is integral in preventing misinformation.
Do we need a comma before “not”?
In a general perspective, a pre-comma placement before “not” is unnecessary except for a couple of instances. Conspicuously speaking, default commas have to be inserted among words listed in series, which also applies to “not” when used serially. Meanwhile in stylistics, a comma would also be necessary before “not” when it is used as an initial parenthetical element. On the flip side, a comma is inessential when it normally functions as an adverb, a noun, or interjection.
Comma before not: In-depth analysis
A comma before not, albeit mostly unnecessary in regular sentence patterns, may be applicable in some cases.
To understand the pre-comma concern further, let’s look at the serial and parenthetical usages of not together with some examples.
“Not” in Series
In enumerating more than two entities in a sentence, commas are used to mark the separation of words and phrases from one another.
The serial comma or the Oxford comma may be seen before coordinating conjunctions (e.g, and, or, nor) in a list of lexical items.
The Oxford comma is optionally included in sentences.
When listing items, we are mentally prompted by the rule of threes which entails the idea of completeness, thereby creating a satisfaction effect.
This means that when not is part of an enumerated list, especially if it is the second item, a comma must come before it.
“Not” as part of a parenthetical
Sometimes, a writer inserts some ideas in the middle or at the end of a sentence.
These ideas are either accidentally or intentionally included for the sake of creating emphatic effects.
In stylistics, these thought insertions are referred to as parentheses or parenthetical elements.
Parentheticals are grammatically-disposable speech components that ought to be offset by commas.
Therefore, when not appears as the first parenthetical word, a pre-comma placement is always needed.
Comma before other not-phrases
Now that we have understood which types of sentence formats necessitate the pre-comma insertion, let’s have look at some of the other commonly-used not-phrases.
Not to mention
Not limited to
When is a comma unnecessary before “not”
In its general sense, not is an adverb that can be used to modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs in sentences.
Aside from its adverbial function, it may also refer to a noun which means an inverting buffer in electronics.
Thirdly, it may also be used as a satirical catchword in American English, usually mentioned to reverse the implication of a former affirmative statement.
When “not” is used as an adverb
Although not may be placed in various sentential positions, it is oftentimes situated adjacent to the verb to serve its negation purpose.
More specifically, it can be found either after auxiliary (e.g., would, will, must) or stative verbs (e.g., am, is, were) in simple past and present sentences
When “not” is used as a noun
In electronics, not is collocated with the word “gate.”
A “not gate” is an input device that inverts circuit flow.
This means that if the output level is at zero, then the input is at level one and vice versa.
In written texts, the letters are often capitalized (i.e., NOT) to prompt the readers of its nominal instead of its adverbial sense.
When “not” is used as an interjection
The arbitrariness and novelty of languages allow humans to create some forms of entertainment and humor.
In North American English, not is also used as an interjectory catchword that implies jocose meaning.
It is typically stated after an affirmative declarative statement, together with a brief pause, to reverse its meaning.
This expression was also popularized by the British actor Sacha Baron Cohen in his movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit of Glorious Kazakhstan.
Since this word is not used within a clause, a comma is never expected to come before it.
A post-exclamation point must be used in marking its interjectory projection instead.
The word not may be used in numerous creative ways despite its simplicity.
It allows humans to express negation of ideas in a discourse which helps in the implication of exception or the absence of an entity.
When properly punctuated, it can facilitate the more accurate transmission of information, especially in written texts.
Information accuracy is nonetheless vital in avoiding any chances of misinterpretation, which is duly important in the effective communication process.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.