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    #1

    double negatives

    Can you please explain double negatives?

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    #2

    Re: double negatives

    Sure.

    In languages based on Latin, like French, Italian, and Spanish, negatives must agree. In Spanish, "Yo no se nada" literally translates to "I don't know nothing."

    But in English, two negatives cancel each other: If I don't know nothing, then I do know something.

    So in English, double negatives are bad grammar.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 20-Aug-2014 at 07:57. Reason: Fixing typo

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    #3

    Re: double negatives

    Welcome to the forum, Heanchou.

    Thanks to your excellent title, the forum's system has found several Similar Threads (see below).

    This of course does not happen when posters use titles like 'Help!', 'Grammar question', 'Which is correct?' etc.

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    #4

    Re: double negatives

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Heanchou:

    1. If you listen to American pop music, you may often hear double negatives: "I don't have no love."

    a. In modern English, that should be "I don't have any love."

    2. In older English, double negatives were often used, but nowadays the use of the double negative is considered to be "bad" English.


    James

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    #5

    Re: double negatives

    Double negatives are common in many regions, but they are non-standard and will be marked wrong in exams. However, I am not a fan of the idea that they cancel each other out and make a positive. If someone says that that they don't have nothing, it would require some contortions to take that as meaning that they have something. People may think poorly of the person's grammar, but I really don't think that anyone would really misunderstand. I also don't see the logic behind the grammarians who say that they cancel each other out, even basing it on multiplying negative numbers, when addition would a more logical mathematical choice, which would leave us with a negative number. It's one of those things that has been around for so long it has become fixed, but I don't get it.

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    #6

    Re: double negatives

    They logically cancel each other out, but that doesn't stop people from using them anyway. Language and logic aren't always the same thing. And, as Tdol states, the meaning is normally understood.

    Avoid them in formal writing.

    Which reminds me of the story of the professor who was lecturing his students, telling them that some languages have the double negative to mean the positive, while other languages do not. But that there is no language where two positives make a negative.

    From the back of the room came the comment "Yeah, right."

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