Double Negatives Examples

Double Negatives

The term double negative is used to refer to the use of two words of negation in a single statement. These two negative elements typically cancel each other out, making the statement positive.

Typically, a double negative is formed by using "not" with a verb, and also using a negative pronoun or adverb.

Sometimes the speaker wants to produce a negative statement, but the effect is to produce a positive statement-the two negatives "cancel" each other. It is considered incorrect to use a double negative.

However, there are some instances when a double negative may be appropriate.

Examples of Double Negatives:

1. I don't want nothing. (If you don't want "nothing," you must want "something.")

2. She didn't see nothing. (If she didn't see "nothing," she must have seen "something.")

3. He is not unattractive. (This might be a time when a double negative is needed-the person doesn't want to say he is "attractive," but also doesn't want to say he's not "attractive".)

4. I did not know neither the date nor the month. (If you did not know neither of them, then you must know both of them.)

5. I am not uncaring. (This might be a time when a double negative is needed-"I" doesn't want to say that he cares, but also doesn't want to say he doesn't care.

Examples of Double Negatives in Literature

1. Shakespeare's Twelfth Night uses a triple negatives in the following line: "And that no woman has nor never none Shall mistress of it be, save I alone".

2. Chaucer makes use of double negatives to describe characters, such as the Friar, in The Canterbury Tales: "There never was no man nowhere so virtuous."

3. Douglas Adams in The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy: "plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea."

Related Links:
Grammar Examples
Negation in Spanish: How to make sentences negative
Grammar Examples for Kids
Literary Terms Examples for Kids
Solecism Examples
Understanding Ellipses
Contractions Quiz
Examples: Grammar and Science Examples for Kids
Completing the Square: Ellipses and Hyperbolas
Connotation Examples