I am in in Québec City for a five day vacation. One sentence I entered into google translate is "I regret not studying French more", and google translate gave me the following:

Je regrette de ne pas étudier plus français.

I don't understand the usage of "ne pas".

I tried researching in three places. The first two places were looking in the "negation" grammar section of my two favourite websites for learning French: Lawless French (at https://www.lawlessfrench.com/tag/negation/), and Tex's French grammar (at https://www.laits.utexas.edu/tex/gr/neg2.html), but in both sections, "ne pas" was never talked about (although "ne .. pas" was talked about).

On this French Stackexchange website, one webpage (La construction "ne pas ..." est-elle récente?) gives me the idea that "ne pas" is used to negate an infinitive, but I'm not 100% sure I understand what that page is saying.

Can someone recommend to me a website in English that talks explicitly about "ne pas" and how it is used? Or, can someone tell me comprehensively this information here?

  • @Legomononc'bléd'Ingres, I am curious to hear what a better translation (or a better source English sentence) would be here!
    – silph
    Jan 4, 2016 at 22:34
  • 1
    I thought using "further" instead of more, and changing the verb construction (not having studied etc.) would yield something better, but no. Using "the French language" will make sure you get an article i.e. la langue française (more generally le français). Consider je regrette de (rare without) ne pas avoir eu l'occasion d'étudier davantage la langue française avant mon séjour or je regrette de ne pas avoir su/pu étudier davantage cette langue avant ma visite. (respect. failing at and not having been able to, study...)... amongst many (with connaître, parler, etc.).
    – user3177
    Jan 5, 2016 at 0:36

2 Answers 2


Ne pas + infinitive = Not + infinitive

where you can employ an infinitive, you can employ ne pas + infinitive : as subject, COD, COI, CC, ...

except if you already have a negation: sans manger => sans ne pas manger : impossible

pas is generally before the verbe, but can be put after the verb also:

  • n'y prendre pas part ou ne pas y prendre part (with pronoun)
  • n'avoir pas lu or ne pas avoir lu (with auxiliary)

You have another constructions like that (before or after the verbe):

  • ne plus = not anymore
  • ne jamais = never
  • ne guère = not much
  • this was exactly the comprehensive answer i was looking for. thank you!
    – silph
    Jan 4, 2016 at 16:06

You're right, ne pas is used in front of an infinitive. I don't have a lesson dedicated to it because it's really that simple - there's nothing else to say. I mention it under word order in this lesson: https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/infinitive/

  • oh, i see. thanks for pointing this out.
    – silph
    Jan 4, 2016 at 16:06

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