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.