Thursday, June 14

Double Negatives in English










What do you think of these sentences?



1.       Nobody can’t do it better than me.

2.       I don’t have no problem with that.

3.       You’re not going nowhere.



Do you think they’re right or wrong?



As a matter of fact, these sentences can be commonly heard in American movies and songs. But I have to tell you that they're grammatically wrong.



The expressions above are what we call “Double Negatives.” Double Negatives are used in a very casual situation, or slang.




First, take a look at these words:



Nobody/ no one

Nothing

Nowhere



As you can feel, these words already have negative meanings. That’s why if you make these sentences:



1.       I don’t like nobody.

2.       She didn’t buy nothing.

3.       Don’t go nowhere.



... you will be wrong because you are in fact using 2 negative expressions:



1.       I don’t like nobody. = X

2.       She didn’t buy nothing. = X

3.       Don’t go nowhere. = X



That’s why they're called “Double Negatives.” Because you’re making your sentence negative two times.



Is this good?



Like I said, you might hear some people making sentences like these in an American movie or song. But this is language used in a very informal setting. The people who use “Double Negatives” like this want to emphasize or make their sentence stronger. That’s why they just follow their feeling and speak like this.



But if you’re learning and trying to practice correct and standard English, these aren’t good examples to follow.






How to Fix Double Negatives




If you wanna learn how to fix “Double Negatives” in your sentences, the first thing you have to do is remember that these words:



Nobody/ no one

Nothing

Nowhere



already have negative meanings. So, you should avoid adding more negative meaning to them.



How?



Well, this time you can use the very useful and natural combination “not… any” for negative sentences.



Not… any” is the first and original way to make negative sentences in English.



So, your examples will become:



1.       I don’t have any problem with that. = Ok

2.       Don’t go anywhere. = Ok

3.       I don’t like anybody. = Ok

4.       She didn’t buy anything. = Ok

5.       I don’t know anybody. = Ok



Or, if your negative word is at the beginning of your sentence (sometimes this happens), just remember not to add more negative meaning:



Nobody can’t do it better than me. = X

Nobody can do it better than me. = Ok


Nobody doesn't have enough skill. = X


Nobody has enough skill. = Ok









Hope you learned something!

;-)









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2 comments:

  1. Hi, there! I got a few questions here.

    Those sentences are wrong, but we can still use them in a very casual situation, can't we?

    "I don't have nothing."
    What is this sentence supposed to mean? "I have nothing." or "I have something."?

    Thanks in advance;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello!


      Thanks for reading my Blog ;-)


      I take it that you're a learner of English. If so, I advise you not to practice them.


      "Double negatives" as a kind of slang require more than just a couple of sentences. Slang as a whole requires a total package: attitude, style, intonation, etc. And if you're gonna try "double negatives" in isolation, they will only end up as grammatical errors on your part.


      In any case, "I don't have nothing" is supposed to mean "I have nothing." It doesn't mean "I have something."


      This is also a good point to raise. Because aside from using "not... any" (ex. I don't have anything), "I have nothing" is a common way of making a negative sentence.


      See ya around! ;-)

      Delete

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