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'No' vs 'not'. Which is correct?
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Chanokporn Intiang from Bangkok asks:

I'm a fan of the BBC learning English website. This is the sentence I've learned from school: 'This is not good.' This is the sentence I've seen so many times in my daily life: 'This is no good.' Is it grammatically correct to use no before the adjective 'good'?

Erivelton Nepomuceno from Brazil also wrote in asking when to use not and when to use no.

Roger replies:more questions
No is a determiner expressing quantity like 'all', 'every', 'many', 'some', 'any', 'each', 'either', 'one', 'another' and is used before singular and plural nouns. It is similar in meaning to 'not a' or 'not any' and is often our preferred choice if we want to give emphasis to what we are saying. Compare:
  • 'I have no idea what he is referring to.' (more emphatic)
  • 'I don't have any idea what he is referring to.' (less emphatic)
  • 'No students from the secondary school in New Town achieved the highest grades in their end-of-year exam.' (more emphatic)
  • 'There weren't any students from the secondary school in New Town who achieved the highest grades in their end-of-year exam.' (less emphatic)
  • I'm sorry. I've got no time for that this afternoon.' (more emphatic)
  • 'I'm sorry. I haven't any time for that this afternoon.' (less emphatic)
Not is used to make a clause or sentence negative and usually combines with the verb 'to be' and with adjectives, adverbs, noun groups or prepositional phrases. Very is often used after not to moderate the negative aspect of the clause. Thus, we have:
  • 'It was not difficult to understand why she was in love with him.'
  • 'It is not always true that people who are in love like the same things.'
  • 'He swims well, but not very evenly.'
  • 'It was not a huge meal, but enough for two people.'
  • 'I know I'll probably fail my driving test, but I'm not in the least bit nervous about it.'
'Good' is probably unique as an adjective in that it can combine with no and any and also with not, although there are sometimes subtle distinctions in usage or meaning. Compare:
  • 'Is the milk good?' 'No, it's not good.' (The discussion here is about how fresh the milk is and not for me would be the preferred negative)
  • 'Was the play any good?' 'It was no good at all. The acting was poor and the direction was terrible.' (Here, no good in the answer reflects any good in the question.)
  • 'It's no good. I can't see how we can repair this fence. We shall have to buy a new one. (Here, 'It's no good' could be replaced by 'It's no use'.)
Note that good, like use or point is often used with -ing:
  • 'It's no good trying to apologise. You have really offended me.'
  • 'It's no use complaining about the service in this hotel. It will never improve.'
  • 'There was no point (in) carrying on with this. We decided to end the investigation.
Remember to use 'there's' with 'no point' and 'it's' with 'no good/no use'.

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