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WSB
05-01-2006, 03:39 PM
Great forum! Finally, a place where I can comfortably reveal my ignorance. ;)

Here's something I keep coming up against in my writing, and I can't seem to wrap my mind around which is correct.

Is is don't often, or often don't? Examples:

We often don't realize how strongly our thoughts affect our moods. Or -

We don't often realize how strongly our thoughts affect our moods.


We often don't consider the consequences of our actions. Or -

We don't often consider the consequences of our actions.


Something about "often don't" seems contradictory, but sometimes the other way doesn't seem right either.

reph
05-01-2006, 08:51 PM
We often don't consider the consequences of our actions. Or -

We don't often consider the consequences of our actions.The two sentences have different meanings. (1) Often, we fail to consider the consequences... (2) We seldom consider... or We usually don't consider...

#1 is appropriate if we do consider the consequences most of the time. #2 isn't.

WSB
05-02-2006, 03:55 PM
Okay, so either would be considered correct depending on my meaning? Sometimes it just doesn't sound right and I end up rephrasing the question to avoid it altogether.

Thanks for the input!

reph
05-02-2006, 08:15 PM
That's right, both of them are grammatical. Choose the one that fits your meaning or say "We usually don't..." or "We may fail to..." or something else.

Rhythm plays a part in such decisions. "We don't often consider" sounds smoother than "We often don't consider."

fallenangelwriter
05-09-2006, 10:33 PM
The way I've always interpreted it:

we don't often X= we rarely X. X= less than half the time

We often don't X= by default, we do X, but sometimes forget: X= more than half the time

it's a 60-40 split in my mind, with word order determining the direction.

smiley10000
05-18-2006, 09:59 PM
often is an adverb. Meaning it modifies a verb.

'do' is a modifying verb. It is used to attach the negative in English. By using both 'do not' and 'often' your sentence gets confusing. It would be better to search for one word to replace them.
For example:

We often don't realize how strongly our thoughts affect our moods.
may sound better as:
We often forget how strongly our thoughts affect our moods

We don't often realize how strongly our thoughts affect our moods.
may sound better as:
We rarely realize how strongly our thoughts affect our moods

HTH!
Happy Writing :e2BIC:
:D 10000

Carmy
05-21-2006, 02:19 AM
Try cutting it down to the bare bones. Which do you think is correct:

We don't.

We often.