Double Negatives

What Are Double Negatives? (with Examples)

A double negative is usually produced by combining the negative form of a verb (e.g., cannot, did not, have not) with a negative pronoun (e.g., nothing, nobody), a negative adverb (e.g., never, hardly) or a negative conjunction (e.g., neither/nor).

Examples of Double Negatives

Here are some examples of double negatives: A double negative gives the sentence a positive sense. For example: Often, the positive sense is not what the speaker is trying to say, but a double negative is not always an error. Look at this example: When used to mean attractive, the double negative not unattractive carries a connotation of the speaker being factual as opposed to complimentary.

A Double Negative Is Usually an Error

A double negative is usually an error because it portrays a positive sense when a negative one is intended. In reality, readers nearly always understand the intended meaning, but a writer's credibility is always damaged when a double-negative error is made.

"The secret to being a likeable grammarian is knowing when to shut up."

What about a Triple Negative?

You do not see triple negatives often, but here is a witty one:

A Quick Test

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See Also

Double negative with neither/nor What is a double comparative? What are pronouns? What are adverbs? What are conjunctions? Glossary of grammatical terms