I would phrase this sentence as "de ne pas pouvoir" or "de pas pouvoir", but I have never seen the "de ne pouvoir" construction like this. In what circumstances can you get away with only using "ne"?

« Elle a regretté de ne pouvoir faire ses adieux. »


Thank you for the link. Unfortunately, my French is not too advanced yet to capture the minute details of the answers there written in French.

  • Pas may be omitted in the negative after pouvoir (and a few other verbs oser, cesser savoir...) when they are followed by an infinitive.
    – None
    May 21, 2016 at 18:26
  • Additionally, there is something called the ne expletive in French, it's used formally... Read here: french.about.com/od/grammar/a/negation_form_2.htm (By the way, it adds no meaning whatsoever, simply emphasis) May 22, 2016 at 1:58

1 Answer 1


It is formal language. It is used to clarify and emphasize the negative. See also :

Why is the "pas" missing?

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