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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“My job is not to worry about those people” — what does “not” refer to?

In the famous leaked video, Mitt Romney says My job is not to worry about those people An equivalent sentence probably is It is not my job to worry about those people Some media in my home ...
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3answers
250 views

Can a double negative be used to express caution or uncertainty?

In the following statement, what is the effect of the double negative? Is it necessarily emphasis? Or could it be a kind of cautious statement implying a degree of uncertainty? If a double negative ...
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1answer
486 views

Un-(adjective) but In-(noun) — does it ever go the other way?

Many pairs of words use un- as a prefix for the preferred adjective but in- as a prefix for the preferred noun (e.g. unstable/instability, unequal/inequality, unable/inability, unjust/injustice, ...
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1answer
905 views

Litotes: Always for Emphasis? Used for Non-committal Hedging? Any Authoritative Source?

My question is about litotes. I’m wondering if it is always for emphasis, or whether it can be a type of non-committal statement or hedging. And, is there an authoritative source that can be cited ...
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0answers
314 views

Why does a negative adverbial phrase trigger inversion? [duplicate]

When a negative adverb (or adverbial phrase) is placed at the beginning of a sentence, we exchange the normal placement of subject and verb. Why is that?
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3answers
195 views

Why does no dictionary carry the word 'non-affair', though all carry 'nonevent'?

I came across the word “non-affair” in Jeffery Archer’s novel Kane and Abel, which I just finished reading yesterday. The word appears in the following sentence (p. 544): “She couldn’t recall ...
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1answer
211 views

Why is “not as … as” preferred to “not cheaper than”?

In the rephrasing exercise A is more expensive than B. > A is not _________ B. The only correct answer is supposed to be "A is not as cheap as B". However, a student suggested "A is not cheaper ...
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2answers
986 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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1answer
774 views

Why do positive and negative variants of the same question elicit the same answer? [duplicate]

In common American English usage, these two questions elicit the same response: Do you have a ticket? Don't you have a ticket? These are the usual answers (I was going to say "possible answers" ...
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1answer
3k views

Interpreting “not bad”

In conversations people often use "not bad". How to interpret this? Are they feeling good or just not bad or somewhere in the middle? Does it depend on the context? E.g.: X: How are you doing ...
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1answer
1k views

Meaning of “either”: “not /A or B/” = “not /either A or B/”?

In a positive sentence, "either . . .or" is sometimes used to express an exclusive disjunction. However, what happens when “either” is used in negation, as in sentence two below? Is the meaning the ...
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2answers
410 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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3answers
2k views

Verb + not = do not verb ? What is the gramatical explanation?

I have long been puzzled by the usage of 'verb + not'. For example, Kennedy said, "... my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." The Bible ...
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1answer
10k views

“Not… neither… nor…” word order

George Galloway is an outspoken MP with excellent rhetorical skills. I will take a part of his speech to convey the idea of my question. Video Iraq is neither strong, independent nor even a ...
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3answers
872 views

What does the word “no” mean before a noun-adjective word? [closed]

I see some examples : - No cheese - No errors - No good I understand how to use "any", but "no" before a noun is weird (especially "no" before an adjective). Can anyone explain them?
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3answers
639 views

Is “tell neither X nor Y” equivalent to “not tell both X and Y” or “not tell either X and Y”? [closed]

Given the sentence "John told neither the boss nor the secretary.", which of the following has the same meaning? John did not tell both the boss and the secretary. John did not tell either ...
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1answer
1k views

Is “make no mistake” a mistake?

Is "make no mistake" proper grammar? Isn't "no" being used as a quantifier? Aren't quantified nouns supposed to be plural when the quantity is none? For example, I was taught to say, "one egg" and ...
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2answers
339 views

Grammaticality of “I have a car, neither does Sara” [closed]

Can we say "I have a red car. Neither does Sara." or must we say "I have a red car but Sara doesn't."? I have read this on a website and they said that the first sentence is incorrect but I don't ...
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3answers
25k views

“Repairable” vs. “reparable” vs. “irreparable” vs. “unrepairable”

I've been looking online at these three words, but I'm not able to determine their relationship and the rules surrounding their usage. I believe this is true: Repairable: Just what you'd think, ...
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0answers
35 views

Is the expression “It don't” grammatically correct? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: The grammaticality of “that don’t impress me much” It doesn't. Usually, we say it this way, right? But I have seen some song lyrics using "it don't". (Examples ...
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1answer
534 views

Why say “nay” when you could say “no”

I am curious as to why "nay" replaces the simple unequivocal "no" in the context of voting. My research in Merriam-Webster tells me that "nay" means "no" (not the other way around) and the first ...
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2answers
313 views

“Does he go bowling?” or “Doesn't he go bowling?”

Let's say we know a boy called Jonny and he goes bowling twice a week. My daughter has asked me which of the following questions are correct. Does Jonny go bowling? Doesn't Jonny go ...
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2answers
2k views

“Least expected” or “least unexpected”

When I was talking to my girlfriend, she mentioned an incident where one of her friends surprised her with a gift. She said something like that least unexpected ... after which we got into a debate ...
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4answers
155 views

Is there a word for the total amount of time you weren't working in a day?

I can say that I plan to work 7 hours today, but how do I say I plan to "not work" for 2 hours? "Be on a break/pause for 2 hours" or "Rest for 2 hours" doesn't work because I might take several ...
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3answers
1k views

Is “dispreferred” a mainstream word in English?

I just recently came across the word dispreferred in a linguistic document. I have never heard the word used before, rather I generally hear something like "preferred something else" in everyday ...
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1answer
387 views

Use of “afraid not”

Is this sentence correct? I am afraid not of preparing for the exam but of the result. Or is there some other way to write that sentence?
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2answers
2k views

You have no idea, (…): “do you” or “don't you”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Question tags — “did you” vs. “didn’t you” Which one is correct? option 1: You have no idea, don't you? or, option 2: You have no idea, do you?
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1answer
151 views

Is the “or not” in “whether or not” optional? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Whether or not” vs. “whether” I am not sure about the usage of whether. My confusion over it is whether or not is optional. Suppose I have the following sentence: ...
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1answer
440 views

Double negation “does not any”

I understand that any has negative connotations, as can be seen in the above link, but I need to say that there are no pages in a book. I've come up with the following sentence: That book does not ...
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1answer
261 views

Answering a negatively-expressed question [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to answer a negative question without ambiguity? 2). Didn't we park on the C level? (A) Yes, I sure thought we did. (B) No, we'll park on the D level. (C) ...
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2answers
1k views

Usage of “no more” in a sentence

I would need help with the following sentence: It may be no more difficult to claim in words a feeling not felt than one that is. The “no more” is related to the whole sentence or just to the ...
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1answer
385 views

What is wrong (if anything) with the phrase “it don't mean nothing”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: The grammaticality of “that don’t impress me much” “I don’t know nothing” vs “I don’t know anything” I've noticed that sometimes people say "It don't mean nothing". ...
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3answers
574 views

Double negation and litotes

A friend of mine who's a native English speaker corrected me the other day. I said something like "it's not something no-one has done before". He told me about the rule that states that double ...
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2answers
337 views

Can inversion be used without auxiliary verb?

Is the following sentence grammatically correct? I don't like autumn to be honest, neither like I winter that's coming after it. Can inversion be used in this way? Or does it requires auxiliary ...
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3answers
309 views

“Why you no…?” or “What that no…?” — are those grammatically correct? [closed]

Why you no come? Why you no talk English? Why you no have a girlfriend? What kind of English are these sentences? Are these types of sentences grammatically correct?
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2answers
891 views

What is the grammatical function of “never”?

What is the grammatical function of "never" in the following sentence? You will have to do something you've never done. Is it an adverb? My father disagrees with this. In "I have studied" vs. ...
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2answers
1k views

Question tag for a sentence starting with “few”

Which is correct? Few people knew the way, didn't they? Few people knew the way, did they?
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2answers
269 views

Negatives with “a” or “any”

Are both these sentences correct? There isn’t a cat in the kitchen. There isn’t any cat in the kitchen.
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4answers
2k views

How productive is the prefix “un-”?

Is it possible to use un- with new words such as sit, sleep, sad? I'm currently seeing many words (in programming) which use "un-" in the meaning of undoing something. For example, is it possible to ...
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6answers
1k views

Euphemism for “non-useful”

I was just about to tell someone how something "wouldn't really be much useful" if they leave it the way it is — which is like a much more polite version of useless, but I just couldn't find the word. ...
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2answers
2k views

“I wouldn't ever” vs. “I would never”

The two expressions from the title, “I wouldn't ever” and “I would never”, are very similar. But are they completely equivalent or do they bear any subtle differences? If so, how do they differ in ...
3
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2answers
6k views

“Not possible” and “Impossible”

When we say, It is not fair. or It is unfair. I'm not sure enough to say whether both of the sentences have the same meaning or not though superficially, there is no difference between ...
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5answers
614 views

“Not once he would” vs. “not once would he”

Not being a native speaker and suffering semantic satiation from overthinking this, I'd like to ask this probably overly simple question. Not once would he... uses reversal for negation and ...
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2answers
834 views

“Neither of you understands him as I do” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which is correct, “neither is” or “neither are”? “Neither Michael nor Albert is correct” or “Neither Michael nor Albert are correct”? Neither of you understands him ...
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2answers
116 views

Without, free from, lacking, etc.: Unambiguous total negation with “OR”?

In the following, “does not cause” seems to be clear negation, and total negation requires “or”, therefore: The widget does not cause deformities or cracks However, it is unclear to me whether ...
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2answers
3k views

“I won't” vs. “I'll not”

I won’t and I’ll not are both short forms of I will not. Both are used in English. Are there any situations where one is preferred over other?
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1answer
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When should we use proximity rule in “either/or”, and “neither/nor”?

According to this link, if at least one of the nouns involved is plural then it should take the plural form of the verb. Otherwise, it should take the singular form of the verb. But in the last part ...
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2answers
604 views

Does double negation turn “neither” into “either”?

Peter Guess posted tongue twister with a construct where something occurs that creates what looks like a paradox to me. neither either...or...or nor neither...nor...nor are either particularly ...
2
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1answer
5k views

“I haven't got” vs. “I don't have”

Which is the correct way of saying this in English? I haven't got any money. I don't have any money. If both are correct, which is the difference between them?
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1answer
3k views

“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 ...