No one would want to be famous who hadn't also, somewhere in the past, been made to feel extremely insignificant.

  1. Is the sentence a double negative?

  2. Is "who" a relative pronoun which modifies "one"?

  3. Is the subjunctive mood be used in the above sentence?

  • Yes and yes....
    – K Dog
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 13:41
  • 'Double negative' can mean two things. One is the rule based but very informal (usually interpreted as 'improper', 'bad', or 'ungrammatical') use of two negative terms to mean negative ("I can't get no satisfaction" is the very informal way to say the same as more formal "I can't get any satisfaction"). The other is a formal way of logically canceling out to make a positive ("I have no lack of enemies" to mean "I have many enemies") which is a kind of understatement.
    – Mitch
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 14:45
  • Usually when one says 'double negative' in terms of grammar in a ESL or secondary school situation, it is to encourage people to use the more formal "I can't get any...". At the point where one uses the logical multiple negatives, it is not remarkable and is a legitimate style choice. 'Double negative usually refers to the very informal pattern like "I can't get no..."
    – Mitch
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 14:47

1 Answer 1


Yes, "who" relates back to "no one." To illustrate, I'll bring the subject and relative clause together in a slightly expanded way:

No one (...) who had not also (...) been made to feel extremely insignificant.

In this case, the statement should be read as a double negative where the negatives cancel one another out. (Merriam-Webster discusses the tendency to read double negatives "mathematically" in a Usage Note; it may also be litotes, described in the same post). Semantically, it should be read like this (excuse the awkwardness of the rephrasing):

?One would want to be famous who had also, somewhere in the past, been made to feel extremely insignificant.

As to your final question, I see nothing that would distinguish the subjunctive mood from the indicative. Would want seems to be in the indicative, expressing an inclination. Hadn't also ... been made to feel is in past perfect; the subjunctive and the indicative are not distinguished in this tense. Given the absence of formal differences and the fact that the situation described is not clearly unreal in the way these sources suggests, I would not assign subjunctive mood to it. However, this point is a bit fuzzy and might warrant a question on its own.

  • That wikipedia article is somewhat misleading. When most people talk about 'double negative' is it about the use of negative concord (multiple negative words to mean just negative) rather than the logical canceling out of any pair of negatives.
    – Mitch
    Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 14:50
  • The article describes both kinds of negation. I'll correct the link for clarity. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 14:52

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