I don't think I can do it vs I think I can't do it

Are ‘I don’t think I can do it’ and ‘I think I can’t do it’ of the same meaning?

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I see little difference in meaning, but the first version is more idiomatic in most situations.

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As Dozy told us, the first sentence is the usual one.

I have read that some experts feel that the second one is a little stronger and more direct.


  1. I do not think that he is nice.

  2. I think that he is not nice.

I think that some experts say that No. 1 is “softer” because the word “not” is some distance away from “nice,” but in No. 2, the word “not” is right next to “nice.”

Another example:

I do NOT think that he will HELP.
I think that he will NOT HELP.

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Yes, I think you are right, though I neglected to say it…

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Thank you for the confirmation, Dozy.

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