[Grammar] Double negative "Not exactly an offer I couldn't refuse"

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tara

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Hello,
I have a question.

I learnt that double negative can be paraphrased as positive sentence
at school.

When I came across a sentence "Not exactly an offer I couldn't refuse",
I thought it can be translated as "It's exactly an offer I could refuse".


A native speaker of English who is American, however, explained me
"Not exactly an offer I couldn't refuse" is the same meaning of "Not exactly
an offer I could refuse", and it's a way of emphasizing.

They seem completely opposite for me, and I'm still not convinced how
they can be the same meaning.

Could you please help me understand it?

Thank you,
Tara
 

5jj

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The fiirst sentence is unnatural. the speaker probably conflated 'I couldn't refuse an offer like that' and 'Not exactly an offer I could refuse'.
 

JMurray

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I disagree with your friend. I think "Not exactly an offer I couldn't refuse" means "It's an offer that I could refuse". Although, as 5jj says, the first example is not entirely natural, I believe it's phrased in this way because it references the famous line from The Godfather movie: "My father made him an offer he couldn't refuse". It implies that the "offer" involves some kind of unpleasant consequences if the person doesn't go along with it.
Variations on this phrase, which draw in some way on the Godfather meaning, have become quite common and almost always have the form "made someone an offer he/she/they couldn't refuse". I feel that even if it's in the more normal sense of just a strongly persuasive offer, people often say "They made him an offer he couldn't refuse" with a nod to The Godfather.

not a teacher
 

5jj

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I disagree with your friend. I think "Not exactly an offer I couldn't refuse" means "It's an offer that I could refuse". Although, as 5jj says, the first example is not entirely natural, I believe it's phrased in this way because it references the famous line from The Godfather movie: "My father made him an offer he couldn't refuse". It implies that the "offer" involves some kind of unpleasant consequences if the person doesn't go along with it.
I hadn't thought of that possibility.
 

tara

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Hello 5jj,

Thank you very much for your kind explanation.
So this is not a double negative sentense.
The construction of the sentence was very confusing for me,
but "conflated" sounds very convincing.

Thank you again for clearing up my quesiton.
Tara

The fiirst sentence is unnatural. the speaker probably conflated 'I couldn't refuse an offer like that' and 'Not exactly an offer I could refuse'.
 

5jj

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Hello 5jj,

Thank you very much for your kind explanation.
So this is not a double negative sentense.
JMurray's response also makes sense.

There is no clearly right answer, in my opinion.
 

tara

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Hello JMurray,

Thank you very much for your detailed explanation.
I like "Godfather" and watched the trilogy several times,
but never realized that the line is so famous.
So there's a possibility that the sentense has the opposite meaning...
It's good to know.

Thank you,
Tara



I disagree with your friend. I think "Not exactly an offer I couldn't refuse" means "It's an offer that I could refuse". Although, as 5jj says, the first example is not entirely natural, I believe it's phrased in this way because it references the famous line from The Godfather movie: "My father made him an offer he couldn't refuse". It implies that the "offer" involves some kind of unpleasant consequences if the person doesn't go along with it.
Variations on this phrase, which draw in some way on the Godfather meaning, have become quite common and almost always have the form "made someone an offer he/she/they couldn't refuse". I feel that even if it's in the more normal sense of just a strongly persuasive offer, people often say "They made him an offer he couldn't refuse" with a nod to The Godfather.

not a teacher
 

emsr2d2

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Would you like an evening out with dinner and dancing, then cocktails, with Brad Pitt?
Wow. That's an offer I couldn't refuse.

Would you like an evening in a dark cellar, eating worms and drinking bleach, with Hannibal Lecter?
That's not an offer I couldn't refuse.
 

tara

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Hello 5jj,

I understand.
Thank you very much for taking your time.

Tara

JMurray's response also makes sense.

There is no clearly right answer, in my opinion.
 

5jj

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Would you like an evening out with dinner and dancing, then cocktails, with Brad Pitt?
Wow. That's an offer I couldn't refuse.
I could!
 

tara

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Hello emsr2d2,

Thank you very much for your fantastic example.
it's sometimes painful for me to learn English, but
your example just gave me a pleasant moment.

Thank you,
Tara
Would you like an evening out with dinner and dancing, then cocktails, with Brad Pitt?
Wow. That's an offer I couldn't refuse.

Would you like an evening in a dark cellar, eating worms and drinking bleach, with Hannibal Lecter?
That's not an offer I couldn't refuse.
 
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