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Negation and Double Negative

Negation and Double Negative

Negation, as maintained by the likes of Merriam Webster refers to
“the action or logical operation of negating or making negative”.
In simpler terms, negation defines the polar opposition of affirmative, denies the existence or vaguely – a refutation. This is also known as “Not”. Classical logic resembles negation with truth function which takes truth to falsity and is perfectly capable of running the opposite operation. It denies the truth of a sentence. It’s just the conversion of the affirmative sentence which converts the simple affirmative sentence into negative.
  • I like to sing = I do not like to sing.

Rules of Negation:

By changing the auxiliary verb of the sentence into negative, we can apply Negation in a sentence.

1. Negation in tense

1.Present Indefinite TenseDo = do not/ don’t, does = does not/doesn’t.
2.Present Continuous TenseAm = am not, is = is not/isn’t, are = are not, aren’t.
3.Present Perfect TenseHave = have not/haven’t, has = has not/hasn’t
4.Present Perfect Continuous tenseHas been = has not been, have been = have not been
5. Past Indefinite tense Did = did not/didn’t
6.Past Continuous tenseWas = was not/wasn’t, were = were not/ weren’t
7.Past Perfect TenseHad = had not/hadn’t
8.Past Perfect Continuous TenseHad been = had not been/hadn’t been
9.Future Indefinite TenseShall = shall not, will = will not/won’t
10.   Future Continuous tenseShall be = shall not be, will be = will not/won’t
11.   Future Perfect TenseShall have = shall not have, will have = will not have/won’t have
12.   Future Perfect Continuous TenseShall have been = shall not have been,will have been = will not have been/won’t have been
  • He drives the car = He does not drive the car
  • Alex ate rice = Alex did not eat rice

2. Negation in Modal-auxiliary

ModalModal in negativeModalModal in negative
CanCan not/ can’tShallShall not
CouldCould not/ couldn’tShouldShould not/shouldn’t
MayMay notWillWill not/won’t
MightMight not/mightn’twouldWould not/wouldn’t
MustMust not/mustn’tOught toOught not to
NeedNeed not/needn’t
  • Edward can swim= Edward cannot swim
  • We must go there= We must not go there

3. Negation in Words

Some words such as ever, anybody, anyone, anything, anywhere, instead of never, nobody, no one, nothing, nowhere, etc. represent the Negation.
  • I do not think he can ever reach within time.

Double Negative

Double negative on the other hand, simply defines the existence of two forms of negation in the same sentence. Please, notice that a double negative can often result in an affirmation in the English language (e.g., He hardly stops for small-talks). The rhetorical term for such a phenomenon is ‘litotes’.
  • I can not find him nowhere.

Uses of Double Negative

Double Negative can be used in two ways. They are:
1. Using negative words
such as never, nobody, anyone, nothing, nowhere, etc
  • He cannot go nowhere without informing me.
2. Using prefix
Such as ir, un, non, pre, anti, il, im, etc.
  • John is not uncontrollable by his family member though he is a special child.
In modern English, Double Negatives are highly avoidable as it is grammatically wrong. We know we cannot use more than one negative word in a statement. It usually used in informal conversation or speech and in songs’ lyrics as well. To form a correct sentence, we must avoid using a double negative in a single sentence formally.

Source: Learn Grammar

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