Word Confusion: Know versus No

Posted June 2, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 18 February 2018

No, really, I have actually come across articles and books that confuse these. I know, I know, how can anyone knowingly confuse know with no? Especially when one knows how many times no is tossed around in our world, lol.

And, no, I don’t care if they are heterographs.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Know No
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“Young Scientists” is courtesy of Bluenotetote (Participant of South Korea Study Tour) under the CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL license, via Wikimedia Commons.

Ricco Wright observing young scientists at Seoul Science High School in South Korea in 2006.

“When Will We Learn…” by archer10 (Dennis) 114M Views is under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via VisualHunt.


Part of Grammar:
Verb; Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: knows
Past tense: knew
Past participle: known
Gerund or present participle: knowing

Adjective; Exclamation; Noun
Plural for noun: noes, nos
Be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information

Verb, intransitive:
Have knowledge or information concerning

Verb, transitive:
Have knowledge or information concerning

  • Be absolutely certain or sure about something
  • Have developed a relationship with someone through meeting and spending time with them
  • Be familiar or friendly with
  • Have a good command of a subject or language
  • Recognize someone or something
  • Be familiar or acquainted with something
  • Have personal experience of an emotion or situation
  • [Usually, be known as] Regard or perceive as having a specified characteristic
  • [Usually, be known as] Give someone or something a particular name or title
  • [Know someone/something from] Be able to distinguish one person or thing from another
[Archaic] Have sexual intercourse with someone 1
Not any

Used to indicate that something is quite the opposite of what is being specified

Hardly any

Used in notices or slogans forbidding or rejecting something specified

Used to give a negative response

  • Expressing disagreement or contradiction
  • Expressing agreement with or affirmation of a negative statement
  • Expressing shock or disappointment at something one has heard or discovered

A negative answer or decision, as in voting

Most people know that CFCs can damage the ozone layer.

I know what I’m doing.

I just knew it was something I wanted to do.

Verb, intransitive:
I know of one local who shot himself.

Verb, transitive:
I would write to him if I knew his address.

I knew it!

He knew and respected Laura.

Isabel couldn’t hear the words clearly, but she knew the voice.

a little restaurant she knew near Times Square

a man who had known better times

He is also known as an amateur painter.

The doctor was universally known as Hubert.

You are convinced you know your own baby from any other in the world.

There is no excuse.

No two plants are alike.

It was no easy task persuading her.

Toby is no fool.

You’ll be back in no time.

No Smoking signs

No nukes are good nukes.

“Is anything wrong?” “No.”

“This is boring.” “No, it’s not!”

They would never cause a fuss, oh no.

Oh no, look at this!

He was unable to change his automatic yes to a no.

Oh, that’s a big no-no.

Adjective: knowable
Adverb: knowingly
Noun: ken, knower
Verb: ken, known, knowing
Verb, modal: can
History of the Word:
Old English cnāwan (earlier gecnāwan) meaning recognize, identify is of Germanic origin and from an Indo-European root shared by the Latin (g)noscere and the Greek gignōskein.

1 A Hebraism that has passed into modern languages; compare with the German erkennen and the French connaître.

Old English , (adverb), from ne [not] +ō, ā [ever]. The determiner arose in Middle English (originally before words beginning with any consonant except h-), reduced from non, from Old English nōn.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Somehow, know has a number of conflicts within homonyms, and you may want to explore other posts that include know or no, including Know How versus Knowhow, Knows vs Noes vs Nose, and Knew versus New.

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Siberian Cat – Tofik is Mstachul’s own work under the GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0, GFDL, or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 licenses; Central Park in New York City © 2012 Dietmar Rabich is under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license; and, Open-Air Theater, Applegate Park – Merced, California is Ron Johnson’s own work for copyrighted free use. All three are via Wikimedia Commons.

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