Having no friends or not having friends.

Are they equal or different? I think they are in same format with these two sentences being equal. Do you not like him? or Don't you like him?


In a comment, John Lawler wrote:

They are equal. Negatives can negate the verb phrase (not [have friends]) or the direct object (have no friends). In both cases, the whole sentence is negative. If you have nothing, you don't have anything.

But please check out his elaborate answers in the linked-to duplicates.

  • 2
    Thanks for the kind words, but the phenomena discussed in the links are not what's at issue; Neg-Raising is not involved here because these are both simple sentences and Neg-Raising is cyclic and therefore applies only to subordinate clauses. This is just the difference between negating the focus or negating a constituent that contains the focus, like only and even. – John Lawler Sep 18 '16 at 16:48

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