What Is Double Negative?
Double Negative is the collective use of two or more negative words in the same sentence. Most double negative found in spoken and written Standard English are inappropriate, except in informal or jocular contexts, as:
- √ “I'm not hungry no more.”
- √ “I can’t do nothing about it.”
During the epoch of Eighteenth-century, GrammariansOpens in new window decided that since two negativesOpens in new window made a positive in MathematicsOpens in new window and LogicOpens in new window, they must likewise turn the thoughtOpens in new window or sentence in the English language into a positive one too. This was not always the case in all languages.
Although, some languages, such as SpanishOpens in new window, ItalianOpens in new window, RussianOpens in new window, PortugueseOpens in new window, PersianOpens in new window, NeapolitanOpens in new window, CzechOpens in new window, and particularly, Non-standard EnglishOpens in new window languages, all have what is called Negative ConcordOpens in new window or emphatic negation by which double negatives cancel out one another and turns the thought or sentence Opens in new window into a positive one; however, in other languages, a double negative merely increases the degree of the negation Opens in new window.
What brings about double negatives?
Double negatives or Multiple negatives (as referred, in a more general term) occurs when there is more than one negative in a clause. Geoffrey ChaucerOpens in new window, as well as William ShakespeareOpens in new window, at some point or the other made use of double and even triple negatives: these were simply powerful, heavily stressed, multiple negatives. Contemporary speakers still use these constructions today, even though they are now shibbolethsOpens in new window that mark speakers of Vulgar English.
Double Negatives normally exists in the form of a verbOpens in new window (e.g cannot, did not, have not”), with a pronounOpens in new window (e.g “nothing, nobody”), an adverb (e.g “never, hardly”), and or a conjunctionOpens in new window (e.g “neither, nor”).
To paraphrase Kenneth Wilson’s views, “Can’t hardly” is also classified as a double negative. The expression “You can’t hardly expect her to be grateful,” when intensively observed, is doubly negative, in that “You can’t expect her to be grateful” is renegated by the overlay of “You can hardly expect her to be grateful.” Other adverbsOpens in new window of a negative quality, such as scarcely, are also considered double negatives when used with a negative verbOpens in new window such as can’t or cannot.”
Sometime a negative can be formed by attaching the prefixes ir-, in-, non- and un-. Here are some examples:
Double negative can also be created using a negative word with another word that acts like a negative. Below are some examples:
|Key Words||Double Negative Sentences|
|Barely||I can’t barely see where I am going in this fog.|
|Barely||She did not barely understand the instructions.|
|Hardly||I hardly have no money.|
|Hardly||It wasn’t hardly midnight when we saw the meteor shower.|
|Rarely||He is not rarely a visitor at the park.|
|Rarely||Andy wasn’t rarely present at openings.|
|Scarcely||The news of the company’s bankruptcy made scarcely no impact.|
|Scarcely||The Southeast had scarcely no rain last year.|
|Seldom||We don’t watch mmovies seldom.|
|Seldom||Andy doesn’t go there seldom since his bad experience.|