not a word

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not a word

Post by azz » Tue Dec 18, 2018 8:51 pm

a. At the time I spoke not a word of English.

b. During that evening, Jane and I spoke not a word to each other.

Are the above sentences grammatically correct?
Are they archaic or acceptable in modern English?

Many thanks
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Re: not a word

Post by tony h » Wed Dec 19, 2018 12:09 am

Perfectly acceptable.
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Re: not a word

Post by azz » Wed Dec 19, 2018 9:38 am

Thank you so much,

How about


c. During that evening, Jane and I spoke not even a word to each other.

d. During that evening, Jane and I spoke not even one word to each other.

e. During that evening, Jane and I spoke not even ten words to each other.

?

Do these work as well?

Many thanks.
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Re: not a word

Post by Phil White » Wed Dec 19, 2018 10:00 am

Very unlikely. "Not a" or "not one" are pretty fixed expressions that reinforce a negative. Adding the word "even" or changing the number from "one" or "a" would be unidiomatic.
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Re: not a word

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:09 pm

Another option for reinforcing the negative sense here: "not a single word".
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