Is it correct, if I say, "John, do not be negative".

I don't mean to say, "John, be positive".

I mean he just shouldn't be negative, not necessarily positive. I'm using 'negative' as an adverb to qualify how John should be. Such as "John do not walk slowly".

Is"John, do not be negative" still a case of double negation? And if so, how do I phrase the sentence.

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    Someone who knows better than me might have a different take on it, but I would say this is just standard negation. Double negation would be something like "Don't not be positive." or "We don't need no education." Feb 4, 2016 at 23:52
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    Even if it were double negation, it's important to remember that it's prescriptively fine to use two negative words in a single sentence as long as the negative meaning cancels out rather than adding together. Not all "double negation" in English is non-standard, it's negative concord (using multiple negative words to express a single logical negation) that is non-standard.
    – herisson
    Feb 4, 2016 at 23:58
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    Not being negative is by no means an exact synonym of being positive. Feb 5, 2016 at 0:14

1 Answer 1


To bring this out of the shadows and into the shimmering light of an answer, no, it is not.

For those who,like their logic chopped,

"John, do not be negative" is not structurally different from "John, do not be ridiculous," or even "John. do not go gentle into that good night."

Although it may sound absurd to say so,"to be negative" involves a positive assertion. The admonition "John, do not...” is, of course, a negative instruction.

"John, do not be not negative" would be a double negative (would it not be?) and would be absurd. Or not...

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