1. I'm angry.

  2. 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), which technically is a negative assertion, is an affirmation.

  • I would call (2) a denial, not an affirmation, at least by itself. In a conversation, either one could be an affirmation or a denial.
    – ahruss
    Sep 15, 2013 at 18:20
  • Google Books claims 57,000 instances of "He affirmed that he was not [angry, or whatever he wasn't]" Sep 15, 2013 at 20:11
  • 2
    Consider these as answers, and you'll have a real answer: "Yes, an affirmation can never be negative." versus "No, an affirmation can never be negative." (Hint: @Lumberjack and context)
    – Patrick M
    Sep 15, 2013 at 20:42
  • Je t'aime ... moi non plus
    – wim
    Sep 15, 2013 at 21:10
  • "Yeah, right." for instance
    – user52133
    Sep 16, 2013 at 1:15

3 Answers 3


I would say that the answer relies on context. Lets take the following conversations as a case study.

"Hey Joe, how are you doing? You look like you've calmed down a lot since that fight."

"Yeah, I'm not angry anymore. Thanks for talking me down last night."

I would argue that in the example above "I'm not angry" is an affirmation due to the context of the statement. It affirms the previous statement as being true. Let us consider a counter example.

"Hey Joe, how are you doing? You look really angry."

"No, I'm not angry. I'm just feeling a little hungover."

In this example "I'm not angry" is not an affirmation, rather it negates the statement preceding it.

Whether or not a statement is affirmative relies on the context in which it is stated. There are cases where a negative statement can be either affirmative or negative in context.


I believe the use of the word positive is not meant to suggest that an affirmation always has a "positive tone" so much as that it is positive in nature - as in "I am positive that I am right." and "I am positive that you are wrong!". As such I would say the answer is yes, an affirmation can have a negative tone.

  • You are not wrong - is that an affirmation then ;)
    – mplungjan
    Sep 15, 2013 at 18:27
  • That is not only an affirmation - it is also a truism :) Sep 15, 2013 at 18:28

Another relevant datum is the definition of affirm:

  1. To declare positively or firmly; maintain to be true.
  2. To support or uphold the validity of; confirm.

It can simply mean any definite statement. I can, for example, affirm that I am not an alien.

  • +1, but you are affirming that "I am not an alien" is true, which, strictly speaking, is different from saying that "I am not an alien" is an affirmation, though.
    – user51029
    Sep 15, 2013 at 18:45
  • @AtsutoNagatomo I am saying that it is actually. An affirmation (to me at least) is a statement that is made with certainty. It can also mean a yes but it does not need to. It's a strange word, but you should not confuse affirmative with affirmation.
    – terdon
    Sep 15, 2013 at 18:47
  • @AtsutoNagatomo to make matters worse, one of the definitions of positive is " Admitting of no doubt; irrefutable". I believe that is the meaning used in the definition of affirmation that you cited. Also see the definition here: "Giving assent or approval; confirming". It is the confirming aspect that is important to this question.
    – terdon
    Sep 15, 2013 at 18:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.