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My coworker uses this sentence to explain to our patients about our HIPPA Policy: "We cannot give your information out to no one."

The "no one" part catches me every time. I'd like to know if it's grammatically correct. I don't want to correct her when I don't even know if I'm correct. Is it "We cannot give your information out to no one", or "We cannot give your information to anyone" or "anybody"?

Please help!! It's driving me nuts!!!!

marked as duplicate by Spencer, Hot Licks, Kris, jimm101, Rory Alsop Dec 20 '18 at 11:55

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    This is a double negative, which is technically ungrammatical, but something you'll hear all the time in informal spoken English, especially in certain dialects. As a learner of English you should learn how to follow the rules before you are confident enough to break them. On the other hand, resist the remptation to correct people who use double negatives. – Spencer Dec 19 '18 at 23:55
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    @Spencer You should put this as an answer, not a comment. – rpeinhardt Dec 20 '18 at 0:22
  • @rpeinhardt Actually it's a duplicate. – Spencer Dec 20 '18 at 0:27
  • I see, you're flagging the question as a duplicate. – rpeinhardt Dec 20 '18 at 0:29
  • No, the utterer most definitely had not meant to use a double negative and so that's not the case at all. It's just an error as correctly noted by the OP: using no one where the speaker has actually meant any one. – Kris Dec 20 '18 at 7:09

In all standard Englishes, as far as I know, you either use an explicit negator ("not","cannot", "don't" etc) or you use an explicit negative term ("no", "none", "never", "nothing", "nowhere" etc), but not both. With an explicit negator, you substitute a term with "any" ("any", "anyone", "anywhere" etc.)

Many people in various places throughout the Anglosphere use "no" terms with "not" in their speech, though many do not. But few people feel this "double negaton" is appropriate for in any kind of official notice.

So, many people might say "I won't tell no one", in their ordinary life but in a business context, most people think "We cannot give your information to anyone" is much better. There's nothing to choose between "anyone" and "anybody".


Two negatives make an affirmative, it's wrong. Choose any one— either

  • We can give your information out to no one(body). Or

  • We can not give your information out to anyone (body).

Any explanation after Colin Fine's seems redundant to me

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