In particular, I was looking at this quote:

Adam (Paradise Lost): ‘nothing lovelier can be found / In woman, than to study household good

Here's 'nothing' emphasizes 'lovelier'. Is there a term for such usage?

  • 3
    Inversion is for emphasis. Normal way: They couldn't find him anywhere. Inversion: Nowhere was he to be found. – Cathy Gartaganis Jun 5 '16 at 14:25
  • 2
    Why do you think nothing emphasizes lovelier? Nothing is just a noun and lovelier is a comparative which is modifying the noun nothing. @CathyGartaganis I don't think the sentence is in inversion. It is the passive voice sentence of "They can find nothing lovelier". – user140086 Jun 5 '16 at 15:13
  • @Rathony I'm sorry if I'm incorrect but I got the impression of emphasis (perhaps that's due to the passive voice). For example, it could have read 'the loveliest attribute / In women is...' without the negative 'nothing'. So, doesn't the negative emphasize? – Jhkew Jun 5 '16 at 19:42
  • I'd like to advise you to visit our sister site English Language Learners, but please make sure you take the tour and visit their Help Center before posting any question. – user140086 Jun 5 '16 at 19:44
  • 1

I think Litotes is applicable here, with the use of the negative to emphasize the positive.

  • I'm inclined to agree with you but I can't up-vote your answer unless you further explain it. Could you add some more explanation? – BladorthinTheGrey Nov 6 '16 at 12:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.