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  1. #1
    Angelika is offline Newbie
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    Default don't forget nothing

    I saw a phrase " Don't forget nothing" while I was watching a film on TV recently. It was written in some list of instructions and it confused me very much. Until that moment I had been sure that such a phrase is impossible in English and it should sound like " Don't forget anything". Could you please help me understand in which case this would be correct?
    Angelika.

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: don't forget nothing

    Your understanding is OK, but 'impossible' is a rather strong way of putting it. People do, informally, say 'Don't forget nothing', and some observers insist that it is 'not wrong'. In the sort of situation that an English language learner is likely to encounter, 'Don't forget anything' is right.

    b

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    Default Re: don't forget nothing

    Well, it's not impossible, but it is incorrect! People may say it informally, but that just means they're not using correct grammar. It is a rule in English not to use a double negative, so you would not put "not" and "nothing" together. You are right, the correct saying is don't forget anything.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: don't forget nothing

    "Don't forget nothing" is not uncommon and is definitely the kind of thing you might hear spoken. It is at best informal, and some people strongly disapprove of such constructions. However, such double negative constructions are not at all unusual. Look at it this way: a double negative equals a positive.

    ~R

  5. #5
    Angelika is offline Newbie
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    Smile Re: don't forget nothing

    Thank you very much indeed!

  6. #6
    bianca is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: don't forget nothing

    Quote Originally Posted by Niall Beag View Post
    No it's not! A double negative is an emphatic negative. (That's how people use it, so that's what it is.)
    I agree with you.
    I didn't do no harm to nobody! This is pretty charged, and hammers home that I really didn't do any harm to anybody. Only the ungrammatical form, for some reason, makes so much more sense to me. Language is illogical, and we, people, try to shape it and mangle it to befit the principles of reason. In other (Latin) languages, double negations are correct grammatically.
    Last edited by bianca; 03-Aug-2007 at 19:42.

  7. #7
    RonBee's Avatar
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    Default Re: don't forget nothing

    Quote Originally Posted by Niall Beag View Post
    No it's not! A double negative is an emphatic negative. (That's how people use it, so that's what it is.)

    "A double negative equals a positive" is an argument from logic, not language. Language is rarely logical, so why should it be in this case?

    However, learners should avoid using double negatives as you'll lose marks if you use them in an exam!
    You are right! (That didn't come out the way I meant it.) A double negative does not equal a positive, but it is a positive statement. For example, I didn't do nothing! means the person did do nothing (that is, didn't do what he was accused of).

    Sorry for my mistake.

  8. #8
    RonBee's Avatar
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    Default Re: don't forget nothing

    I don't have none = I don't have any

    ~R

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    Default Re: don't forget nothing

    It is a quote. As such it does not have to be grammatically correct. The quote originated from around 1757 for common soldiers who would be generally uneducated and hence likely to speak with grammatical errors. More at: Robert Rogers' 28 "Rules of Ranging" - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  10. #10
    RonBee's Avatar
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    Default Re: don't forget nothing

    Prescrpitivists rail against double negatives (calling them ungrammatical), but that doesn't stop people from using them in everyday language. "I didn't mean no harm" is perfectly understandable in context. It's ungrammatical only because it violates an artificial rule.


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