Negation is the process that turns an affirmative statement (e.g. "I am American") into its opposite denial (e.g. "I am not American").

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The use of “not” in idiomatic English

The Daily Mirror recently used the phrase "Pentagon experts on Friday said it was impossible to imagine that the missile could not have been fired without Russian help". This exact phrase has appeared ...
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Ambiguity in Negation: “John did not come because of the rain”

John did not come because of the rain. This sentence seems to allow the following two completely different interpretations. John did not come. And the reason was the rain. John came. But the ...
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“Not able to” vs. “unable to”

Which phrase is more suitable to convey one's inability to do something — "not able to" or "unable to"? For example, not able to join the meeting unable to join the meeting
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untypical, atypical, nontypical

I'm trying to label customer data with a word describing how typical they are. There is basically 3 possible values: typical, temporarily untypical, untypical. But I'm not sure if "untypical" is the ...
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51 views

Nor without neither?

I am correcting a translation for a friend. He wanted to say: "Don't look for treasure nor earthly pleasure." This sounds wrong to me. I would say: "Look not for treasure nor earthly pleasure." ...
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52 views

“Would have not” vs. “would not have”

That would not have happened if John had completed his work. That would have not happened if John had completed his work. The former seems correct. The latter doesn't seem incorrect. ...
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Is the use of a hyphen between “non” and an adjective strictly necessary?

Do I need to put a "-" between "non" and an adjective? As an example in physics we say "a non isolated photon", "non tight photon"... The context is very formal (paper publications and similar). Is ...
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4answers
970 views

“All X are not made equal” - ambiguous meaning?

A phrase commonly heard in English (at least informal English) is something like the following: Well, this car is good, but all cars are not made equal! This would be commonly understood by most ...
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33 views

What is the difference between “not that X is going to Y” and “X is not going to Y”? [closed]

Not that running away is going to solve everything. Running away is not going to solve everything. I am not a native speaker. Is there a difference between the two?
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“Why do not you come here?” vs “Why do you not come here?”

I have two questions. What is the difference between "Why do not you come here?" and "Why do you not come here?"? Are both of "Why do not you come here?" and "Why do you not come here?" ...
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699 views

Is “unmissable” a valid word?

I noticed an advert on TV advertising "unmissable" shows coming up. MS Word marks it as a spelling mistake, but the Mac OS is OK with it. I don't particularly like it.
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Can we say “I can't not go” or for instance “i couldn't not look” [duplicate]

I've seen this in an English Learning Facebook page that we can say: I can't not go I can't not tell her I couldn't not eat I couldn't not look Are they true? Is it formal or informal? What ...
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396 views

Can “nor” be used without “neither”?

I came across this sentence: Cummings Motors, Smith Electric nor our subcontractors can be held liable. Is this a proper use of the word nor? I can understand Neither Cummings Motors nor ...
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1answer
24 views

Does the negative enhance the sentence?

When saying, for example, "Isn't that your mother?" versus "Is that your mother?" Is the former sentence more effective because of the negative?
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0answers
49 views

Reply to a question with “Yes, it is” or “No, it is” [duplicate]

What is the correct response to the following question: Ten divided by five is not two? 1) Yes, it is. 2) No, it is. Intuitively I would say "Yes, it is", but then I thought about it in the ...
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6answers
126 views

Is there a functional difference between “not believing” and “believing not”?

If you tell your friend some incredible story and they say, "I don't believe you!" It seems like they are pretty obviously trying to say that they believe that your story isn't true. I have someone ...
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4answers
7k views

Why is “cannot” spelled as one word?

Why is “cannot” spelled as one word whereas other similar constructions such as “do not,” “will not,” “shall not,” “may not” and “must not” are spelled as two words (unless they are contracted as ...
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2answers
68 views

Does “you don't want X” mean “I don't recommend X to you”?

Quite often I read exchanges like this: — I want [something], I tried this and that but still no luck, how can I do that? — You don't want [it]. An example: example. I'm Russian, and this ...
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2answers
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Not only X but also Y are (is?)

At first glance, sentence 1 below seems more correct because there are two subjects. However, something seems more natural about sentence 2. Maybe there is something abbreviated, elliptical, or ...
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66 views

It's not ___, but it's not not ___ either

Are there general modifiers for adjectives that indicate a gray area between the adjective and its negative? E.g., "Plywood isn't wooden, but it isn't not-wooden either. Therefore, plywood is ____ly ...
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Why is the phrase 'Should we not' a Positive assertion?

This phrase is asking the listener to take action in the positive to help our neighbors. "Should we not stand by our neighbors who seek to better their conditions in Kansas and Nebraska?" ...
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4answers
500 views

Boogie - Negative connotation?

I work in a company which has a product called "Boogie" (for reasons that the original owner knows). The product has been called that way for years in our French Canadian environment. Our few English ...
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3answers
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Can there be a hyphen in “nonlinear”?

As the title says, I'm wondering if "non-linear" is an acceptable spelling of the word "nonlinear." A bit of research on this site turns up Is the use of a hyphen between "non" and an ...
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5answers
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“Whether or not” vs. “whether”

This will depend on whether he's suitable for the job. This will depend on whether he's suitable for the job or not. This will depend on whether or not he's suitable for the job. ...
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5answers
221 views

Transform negative to affirmative? [closed]

What is the affirmative form of the following sentence? He is neither poor nor honest. I tried, but couldn't transform it from negative to affirmative.
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Can an affirmation be negative?

I'm angry. I'm not angry. Are both (1) and (2) affirmations? I ask because Merriam-Webster defines affirmation as 'a positive assertion', so this make me confused as to whether (2), ...
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5answers
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What is this “Nor”?

And I saw Tityos, son of glorious Gaea, lying on the ground. Over nine roods he stretched, and two vultures sat, one on either side, and tore his liver, plunging their beaks into his bowels, nor ...
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reporting statements: that-clauses [closed]

How would you write the negative statement of: She declared the item to be faulty, the police reported the girl to be missing. Would it be: She declared the item not to be faulty, the ...
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2answers
347 views

“Hitler will send no warning” vs “Hitler won't send warnings”

As in this WWII poster: Are they the same thing, or are there differences in expression? Why do native speakers choose the first one?
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1answer
62 views

Is “Rouse me not” grammatically permissible? [duplicate]

In A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, he writes that the “words” [see footnote] of House Grandison are Rouse Me Not. Is this grammatically correct? Does English allow such word-scrambling ...
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36 views

“I'm not” or “I amn't” or “I am not”? [duplicate]

Does there exist a short form of I am not? I'm not or I amn't or I am not?
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1answer
215 views

“No” vs. “not” for negation

I am not clear about the use of no and not . I have come across two sentences like: All I asked was time, not money. I met this person about a month ago. I remember his name, what he was ...
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770 views

Difference between “Can't you” and “Can you not”?

I've been wondering about the difference between questions that use can't you and can you not. Like: Can't you tell just by looking? [I read this from a comic-detective series] Can you not ...
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113 views

What are the differences between “seems not” and “doesn't seem”?

Are the following sentences correct? He seems not to want to help us and He seems want to help us. Is it correct if I use "seem" in a negative sentence? Which role does "seem" play? ...
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How to hyphenate a negated compound noun?

We have a term for a process, "defect source assessment". We want to describe a set of processes that are not related to that process. Which of the following (if any) would be correct? non ...
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To what extent is hardly a negative adverb?

The American Heritage Dictionary notes about adverbs like hardly that they are not truly negative in meaning. The sentence Mary hardly laughed means that Mary did laugh a little, not that she ...
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“No, I don't” or “No, I do not” in responding English questions

Consider: A: Do you like ice cream? B: No, I don't. Usually in a grammar book when you answer someone's question with negation you'll use shortened answer as in "I don't". I know you can ...
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Can I use “anymore” with “nothing”?

Normally, anymore (or any more in UK) meaning any longer used as an adverb not a as determiner, can be found in negative, conditional, or interrogative sentences. Americans may use anymore in ...
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“I don't think so” vs. “I think not”

I've recently been told that "I don't think so" is, in the U.S.A., a southernism, whereas "I think not" is considered more acceptable everywhere else. Is this true? Example: Q: Is your wrist ...
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“Undistinguishable” vs. “indistinguishable”

Is there a difference between these two words? To me, it seems that undistinguishable is more where you can't tell what it is, and indistinguishable seems to be where they're the same. It seems a lot ...
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Answering a negative question with one word

There has been talk of how to answer a negative question without ambiguity, most often with a qualifying phrase needed for clarification. (For example, "yes, I do"/"no, I don't.) I've noticed that ...
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Question regarding negation? [duplicate]

Usually, one says, I didn't know how. But I've seen this: I knew not how... What is this type of negation called, and when do you use it? Examples: I knew not how... I lie you not... I ...
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5answers
659 views

What's the antonym of “prioritize”? [closed]

If someone is asked to do something important, they might say "I'll prioritize that". But if someone is asked to put something aside to work on something else more important, what could they say? In ...
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4answers
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Should it be “no sign of” or “no signs of”?

I'd like to say: The calm, balmy evening air showed no sign of the carnage that would ensue. My question is: should it be "no sign of" or "no signs of"? Obviously the word "sign" is countable noun ...
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11answers
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What is a good replacement for “ununderstandable”?

I want to tell a colleague of mine I'm doing something that will prevent her from getting "ununderstandable" errors. I have: ...so that you will not get unnecessary, [ununderstandable] errors. ...
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Negation of auxiliary

In He is not right, it is usually said that not negates the auxiliary is. But why not think of not as negating right instead?
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Try not to wake her by A) talking too loud or B) talking quietly?

As I see it both can be correct: Try not (to wake her by talking too loud). (Try not to wake her) by talking quietly. I'm not sure which one a native speaker would use. Any preferences?
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4answers
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“Uncapable” or “incapable”?

In Microsoft Word, uncapable is marked as wrong. It sounded pretty alright to me, thus, I checked it up on the Web and found that many dictionaries do not have "uncapable" in their entries, but ...
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“To not” vs. “not to” [duplicate]

A little bit of context, I read the sentence below after the system - a computer application - has been subject to a certain kind of update: The system will be able to not create a record of that ...
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How to form this tag question?

We always use a positive tag question after a negative sentence: You shouldn't take this medicine, should you? We use a negative tag question after a positive sentence: She must leave early, ...