I was confused about which of the following 2 sentences are valid, does anyone know which is proper?

  1. We have a special machine, like no other.

  2. We have a special machine, unlike no other.

  • 2
    For starters, unlike no is a double negative. – Daniel Aug 29 '11 at 21:39
  • 1
    Ah, I see you have the machine that goes "Ping!" – phenry Aug 29 '11 at 22:04
  • @drm what are you trying to say? – Pacerier Aug 30 '11 at 0:09
  • He's trying to see that if it's "unlike no other", that means there is no other machine that it is unlike, which would make it not very special at all. – David Schwartz Aug 30 '11 at 0:17
  • @Pacerier: Actually, I'm trying to say that English does not allow two negative words/prefixes in the same clause. Examples of negatives include not, un-, hardly, -n't (didn't), and a few more. Not hardly is unacceptable, for instance. – Daniel Aug 30 '11 at 2:21

If you like the idea of using the word unlike in your sentence, you could say, "We have a special machine, unlike any other."

  • 1
    I'm new here, so I did not have the rep to comment on Justin Satyr's answer, but that is what this post is based on. – Firstrock Aug 29 '11 at 23:06

The first sentence is proper.

"Unlike no other" means that a machine dissimilar to this one does not exist, which means that all machines are like this one. By definition, that machine would not be "special" and so the second sentence does not make sense.

  • 2
    Surely, a machine that was like all other machines would be special indeed. That would be truly remarkable. Still, unless you happen to be translating Jorge Luis Borges, that sentence is unlikely to be correct. – Tom Anderson Aug 29 '11 at 21:38

The un- changes the meaning entirely.

In your first example, the sentence states that your machine is unique, and there is no other machine like it.

Your second example states that your machine is unique, but the second part of the sentence contradicts the first part, by stating that "there are no machines that are not like this one," implying that all machines are the same as this one!

I would say that your first sentence is correct.

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.