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Monday, April 16, 2012



In grammar, a negative word expresses the absence of something. If I say, "I have no flour for the cookie dough," I am telling my reader about the absence of flour in my pantry. This is called a negative statement.

In grammar, as in math, two negatives make a positive. If I say, "I hardly have no flour for the cookie dough," I've used two negatives, hardly and no, to explain the condition of flour in my pantry. This is called a double negative. My sentence becomes a positive statement, indicating to my reader that I do indeed have flour in my pantry.

In English grammar, two negative words should never be used in the same sentence to refer to same thing.

Negative words include:
no one
 . . . and in Georgia, nairn, as in the standard double negative, I ain't got nairn, which southerners innately understand to mean, I don't have any.

What double negatives are commonly accepted in your local vernacular?

Tomorrow: Objects

This post is brought to you by the April A to Z Blog Challenge. Check back all through April for daily discussions of writing conventions.


David M. Brown said...

Hey Lucy,

Great post. I write novels whenever i get the chance so it's always good to keep grammar and thing fresh in my mind.

Good luck with the rest of the challenge. You're doing great so far :)

Michelle Pickett said...

As a writer grammar is something I'm always studying. I appreciate the list of negative words. Thanks for sharing.

I look forward to tomorrow's post!

Michelle :)

From A to Z Challenge

Lucy Adams said...

Thank you Davide and Michelle.

Sandra Tyler said...

like the negatives, from one writer to another. And especially like and agree with your comment on my neglectful post -- yes, ignoring your children is healthy. Amazing how many helicopter parents forget that. I should rewrite that post to make clear I am not one of them!

Changes in the wind said...

Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment and I had never thought of it in you perspective but....think you are right:)

Dana said...

Nice post. I love that you're writing about grammar. Developmental English, which dealt primarily with grammar, was my favorite class to teach when I was working outside the home.

Petra said...

Grammar is becoming a lost art. Hence, I'm thankful for a good reminder!

Thanks for the visit!

Ruth said...

Double negatives drive me nuts. "I don't got nothin'." is one I hear a lot.
Thanks for stopping by my blog.

welcome to me

yummy stuff

Paula Martin said...

Good list of negatives. Must admit one of my bugbears is when a negative is omitted as in 'I could care less' which is used instead of 'I couldn't care less' even though it means exactly the opposite.

Cindy Dwyer said...

Oh God, yes. I cringe when someone says "I could care less".

Jo said...

One of my bugaboos isn't a double negative, but when people say, or write, 'could of' when they mean could've or in reality could have. Drives me crazy, particularly when I see it written. Double negatives seem to be very much a part of speech today though. Glad you are reminding people, but I am not sure the people who need reminding are reading our blogs.

Christine Rains said...

I've never heard of nairn. We're just plain Midwesterners around here. And within my small group of friends, a double negative would immediately be pounced upon by the grammar police!

William Kendall said...

I haven't heard of nairn either!

Lucy Adams said...

Nairn of y'all has ever heard of nairn? (It's a singular pronoun, too, btw.)

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