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Could you use these two sentences the same way? Which one is worse:

This wasn't no common day.

This wasn't a common day.

marked as duplicate by Mitch, Benjamin Harman, user140086, FumbleFingers, Mari-Lou A Jan 18 '16 at 0:10

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Double negatives are used to convey uncertainty:

"His actions were not irresponsible."

The writer is not condemning the actions as irresponsible, but he is unsure as to whether the actions were responsible.

Double negatives are also used to water-down the strength of a statement:

"Double negatives are not ungrammatical." (as opposed to "Double negatives are grammatical.")

The writer wants the reader to use double negatives cautiously.

  • So "This wasn't no common day?", means the speaker is pondering about the potentiality of this day. – wolfdawn Jan 15 '16 at 20:51
  • @zehelvion In conversation, the speaker could just be saying the day wasn't a common day. The speaker may just have a habit of using double negatives. – CDM Jan 15 '16 at 20:59
  • Yes. If the speaker is presenting a question? – wolfdawn Jan 15 '16 at 21:18
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Pretty much.

This wasn't an ordinary day.

This was no ordinary day.

These are correct. Your first example is wrong.

  • So it's like irregardless, the double negative sound like one negative because of the pronunciation? – wolfdawn Jan 15 '16 at 20:44
  • In careful or formal speech. Many dialects use double negatives frequently, with no confusion about meaning, and consistency of form. But it is not considered "standard English," and should be used in formal contexts or when you want to make a good impression (assuming that the people you want to impress don't talk like that themselves.) – Steven Littman Jan 15 '16 at 21:01

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