Je ne pouvais me mesurer à elle.


#1

Why isn’t there a “pas” in this sentence?


#2

It makes it more literary as it is called the “ne littéraire”. Makes it more formal. You can always add the “pas” to turn it casual/neutral.

Usually this “ne” only works with the verbs savoir, pouvoir, oser, cesser.

Nobody ever talks using this style unless it is a formal speech.

You can find more info on internet :slightly_smiling_face:
https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/ne-litteraire/