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General Writing and Grammar Help/I don't think so - I think not

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Question
Dear Ted:

Is there any difference between "I don't think so" and "I think not"?

If so, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

Thank you very much for the help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

Is there any difference between "I don't think so" and "I think not"?

*** "I don't think so" is very commonly used.  It is "casual."  "I think not" means the same thing, but it is a more "formal" expression.

If so, when should I use each of them?

Would you please give me some examples?

EXAMPLES:

Teenager to mother:  Jack is having a party tonight, and he is serving alcohol and various kinds of drugs.  I'd like to go.

Mother to teenager:  I THINK NOT!

John says, "Have you been to this restaurant?"
Mary says, "I don't think so."

*** Paolo, if you want to show very strong STRESS in your answer, use "I think not."  That expression has 10 times the emphasis that "I don't think so" does.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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