No and not are the two most common words we use to indicate negation.
While both of these words are used to show the negative, knowing how and when to use “no” and “not” is an important skill and can make a big difference in your English.
1. When to use “No”
No is usually used to mean something like “not any” or “not a/an”, and usually refers to a noun. It is commonly used in the following situations:
Answering a yes or no question:
- “Are you from Germany?” “Yes, I am.”
Using in an exclamation:
- “Can I help you?” “No. Everything is okay.”
Using ‘no’ for nouns without an article:
- There’s no address on the envelope.
- No decisions have been made.
Used as adjectives preceding a noun without an article:
- The company had no worthy rivals in the industry.
Before verbal nouns (ending in -ing):
- No smoking in this area!
- No playing in parking area!
2. When to Use “Not”
Not is used to express negation in other ways.
For verbs, to show the opposite of an action:
- They do not want to proceed with the experimental study.
For adverbs which are describing a verb:
- Not surprisingly, it was a tense match but eventually the more experienced Australians won.
For nouns with an article:
(This also includes nouns with an article, which are preceded by an adjective, and adjectives on their own.)
- I liked the yellow car, but not the black one.