Double Negative Examples

A double negative is the use of negation twice within the same sentence. For example, “I did not hear nothing”. Though the intent of this sentence may be to assure someone that I did not hear anything, the actual message that comes across is that I did hear something. This is why you should try to avoid these in writing and speaking to ensure that your target message is being portrayed correctly.

Double Negatives

It is very important to avoid the use of double negatives in writing and in speech. Take a look at this sentence. “The man did not say nothing.” This is what is call a double negative, because there are two negatives in this sentence. Some negatives would be “no”, “not”, and “nothing”. “Nobody” would also be a negative. Notice here what these all have in common: The letters “no-“.

There are some negatives that don’t include “no”, but many do. You cannot have two negatives coexisting in a sentence, because they cancel each other out. This sentence says, “The man did not say nothing.” This is saying, if you take out the word “not”, the man did say nothing. So, the man did not say anything. If you put the word “not” in there, you’re saying that the man did not not say anything. You’re saying that the person actually did say something. If you didn’t track with me there, that’s okay.

That’s the problem with double negatives. They’re confusing. The correct way to write this would be: “The man did not say anything.” Notice how I corrected the sentence. I was able to leave the sentence pretty much intact. I just changed that “nothing” here to “anything”. From “nothing” to “anything”. That makes the sentence make more sense. Another way to do this, would be to say, “The man said nothing.”

Here, you have the subject of the sentence and then the verb. You’re saying that the person said nothing. There’s only one negative in that sentence. Those are two possible remedies to the problematic double negative sentence right there.



by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: May 21, 2019