Term: Negatives


A negative structure can show the absence of a noun or any other substantive, the non-performance of the action described by a verb, or the non-existence in the case of a stative verb. An adverb or adjective can equally be negated so that it expresses the absence of the quality or characteristic described. Negation can be used to break the linking function of a preposition so that the items governed by it are shown to be separate.

Unless it is tied to something quantifiable, the number zero or nought simply implies an absence of anything numerically quantifiable. In contrast, negation in language functions in a contradictory way; it invokes a connection, action, modification, etc., only to then deny it. However, a negative nearly always creates a ghostly presence of the very thing it is saying is absent. Something may well not be green, but in learning that our image and understanding of whatever it is coloured by the green whose absence is a characteristic.

This ingenious mechanism common to all languages is one of the driving forces of creativity and generators of meaning. Through it we have access to one of the primary and most fundamental of all tools for creating shades of meaning.

Category: General

'Negatives' - Related Links

Browse the following links to other content related to the term 'Negatives' from the 'General' grammar category: