Дарование вовсе не обязательно.

Я нисколько не сомневаюсь в том, ...

I assume they both essentially mean "not at all", emphasising negation, but I'm not sure how they differ in meaning and usage.

Is the former often coupled with an adjective/adverb and the latter with a verb?

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I guess they can be thought of in terms of the following distinction

вовсе не = совсем не = отнюдь неvery high register - not at all

нисколькоconjoined не = ничуть не = ни капли/грамма неcolloquial - not in the slightest, not a/the least bit

  • Hi. How does "далеко не" compare? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Aug 11 at 20:51
  • 1
    @Con-gras-tue-les-chiens it's only applied to adjectives and adverbs in the context of comparison with the addition of так and как (далеко не так умён, как ...), and to nouns by itself (я далеко не знаток японского) – Баян Купи-ка Aug 11 at 21:14
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    @Con-gras-tue-les-chiens or with the combination "такой..., как/какой/каким..." – Баян Купи-ка Aug 11 at 21:19
  • @Con-gras-tue-les-chiens English equivalents are by far not as ... as ... and far from being a(n) .... – Баян Купи-ка Aug 12 at 6:34

Нисколько не is used as a slight exaggeration mostly with verbs and predicatives (in impersonal sentences ) like нисколько не жалко, нисколько не больно, мне нисколько не хочется. It isn't used with adjectives though or nouns. The meaning is "absolutely "not in any amount"( ни в коей мере).

Я нисколько в этом не сомневаюсь – Я совершенно в этом не сомневаюсь Он нисколько не жалел о содеянном – Он совсем не жалел о содеянном Он нисколько не сомневался в сказанном – Он абсолютно не сомневался в сказанном

Вовсе не is highly colloquial, used more often to express a firm negation, when a person is confident.(уверенное отрицание). The usage is more universal, it can be followed by a verb, a predicative, an adverb, an adjective, a noun.

Я вовсе не собирался вас обижать. Он вовсе не бедный человек. Мне вовсе не жалко.

Вовсе не is about plain denying a fact: not at all or 'absolutely not':

You absolutely don't have to be gifted.

Нисколько is literally about quantity and means 'no amount (of doubt)'. Нисколько не in combination with a verb means 'to no extent', so here are possible translations:

To no extent I doubt, that...

I have not the least doubt, that...

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