Double negatives in English

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Kwiziq community member

23 May 2018

1 reply

Double negatives in English

I don't think that double negatives are bad English, but they should be avoided if they create ambiguity and unnecessary complexity. But "He couldn't not talk to me" conveys different information from "He could talk to me."

This question relates to:
French lesson "Using double and multiple negatives (negation)"


Kwiziq community member

24 May 2018


Hi Paul,

I think calling the lesson you refer to as dealing with "double negatives" is misleading. What's being discussed are two negations but of different things. For example:

I never said anything. -- This is a negation of time (never) and object (anything) following each other. In this case, they don't cancel and are stylistically perfectly OK in English because they negate different things.

Therefore, strictly speaking, the lesson does NOT deal with double negatives.

-- Chris.

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