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    #1

    Double negatives

    First, I'll stand my English skills next to those of anyone else.

    That said, my mother and I have an on-going battle of some thirty-five years, regarding double negatives, and I need an expert to settle things.

    She swears she was taught "not as...as" is a double negative; i.e., A is not as bad as B.

    I do not deny she was taught that.

    Nevertheless, I never heard any such thing in grade school or beyond.

    Can anyone instruct me? If it is a double negative, how?

    Many thanks in advance.

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    #2
    Usage Note: A traditional usage rule draws a distinction between comparisons using as . . . as and so . . . as. The rule states the so . . . as construction is required in negative sentences (as in Shakespeare's "'tis not so deep as a well"), in questions (as in Is it so bad as she says?), and in certain if-clauses (as in If it is so bad as you say, you ought to leave). But this so . . . as construction is becoming increasingly rare in American English, and the use of as . . . as is now entirely acceptable in all contexts.

    As … as is standard in both positive and negative constructions: The fleet was as widely scattered then as it had been at the start of the conflict. Foreign service is not as attractive as it once was. So … as is sometimes used in negative constructions (… not so attractive as it once was) and in questions (“What is so rare as a day in June?”).


    as - Definitions from Dictionary.com

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    #3

    Re: Double negatives

    Here's an example of the old rule:
    SO...AS, AS...AS Both so and as are used as adverbs of degree correlative with the conjunction "as": unless there is a negative in the clause as is generally used; with a negative so is preferable to as. We say,
    "It is as cold as ice."
    "It is not so good as it."
    Source Practical Exercises in English / Buehler, Huber Gray, 1864-1924

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    #4

    Re: Double negatives

    Quote Originally Posted by estoude01 View Post
    First, I'll stand my English skills next to those of anyone else.

    That said, my mother and I have an on-going battle of some thirty-five years, regarding double negatives, and I need an expert to settle things.

    She swears she was taught "not as...as" is a double negative; i.e., A is not as bad as B.

    I do not deny she was taught that.

    Nevertheless, I never heard any such thing in grade school or beyond.

    Can anyone instruct me? If it is a double negative, how?

    Many thanks in advance.
    I have no idea why your mother thinks that's a double negative. How does she try to explain it as being a double negative?

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    #5

    Re: Double negatives

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    ...a double negative?
    For some reason, though, "not so...as" was preferred at one time. I haven't been able to track down a source explaining the reason, but I suspect it may have had to do with the semantics of "as...as" having, at the time, a kind of mimizing effect on the verb. That's as far as I've gotten.
    Minimizing Adverbs
    Despite the fact that many people still use double negatives, the taboo of multiple negatives is also applied to the combination of negatives with adverbs such as barely, hardly, and scarcely. It is therefore incorrect to say I couldnít hardly do it or The car scarcely needs no oil. Adverbs such as these tend to have a minimizing effect on the verb, and resemble negative adverbs such as not and never in that they are used with words such as any, anybody, and similar words. Thus we say You barely have any time left, just as we would say You donít have any time left, but we would not say You barely have no time left, since it would be an unacceptable double negative. The minimizing adverbs act as a negation of sorts, and as such result in statements like that being viewed as a double negation in formal speech.
    Source: There Ain't No Way

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