Using double and multiple negatives (negation)

Whilst it's considered bad English to use double negatives, in French double negatives are the correct form in some combinations.


Look at these cases:

Je n'ai jamais rien dit!
I never said anything! / I didn't say anything, ever!

Vous n'avez rien dit à personne
You didn't say anything to anyone

Nous ne faisons jamais rien
We never do anything

On ne va jamais nulle part!
We never go anywhere!

Note that you can mix  jamais, rien, personne and nulle part (never, nothing, no one, nowhere) with each other.

Note: jamais always comes before rien, personne or nulle part.

You can also use any of those with ne ... plus (not anymore / not again):
plus jamais
OR
jamais plus
 
plus rien
plus personne

plus nulle part
(for the last three, plus always comes first)

Je ne ferai plus jamais ça!
Je ne ferai jamais plus ça!

I will never do that again!

Je ne reconnais plus personne.
I don't recognise anyone any more.

Ils ne mangent plus rien.
They don't eat anything anymore.

Vous n'allez plus nulle part.
You don't go anywhere anymore.

 

ATTENTION: 

You CANNOT mix ne... pas/guère/point (not, hardly, at all) with rien, jamais, personne or nulle part.

 

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources


Je ne reconnais plus personne.
I don't recognise anyone any more.


Vous n'avez rien dit à personne
You didn't say anything to anyone


Vous n'allez plus nulle part.
You don't go anywhere anymore.


Nous ne faisons jamais rien
We never do anything


Ils ne mangent plus rien.
They don't eat anything anymore.


Je n'ai jamais rien dit!
I never said anything! / I didn't say anything, ever!


On ne va jamais nulle part!
We never go anywhere!


Je ne ferai plus jamais ça!
Je ne ferai jamais plus ça!

I will never do that again!


Q&A Forum 7 questions, 11 answers

RobC1Kwiziq community member

Clarification of Lesson

I don't quite follow what the "But only" is meaning in the following text from the lesson:

You can also use any of those with ne ... plus (not anymore / not again):plus jamais / jamais plusbut ONLY plus rienplus personneplus nulle part. 

Asked 4 months ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Rob !

I agree my formulation here is not the clearest :)
What I meant was that you can use "plus jamais" or "jamais plus" (either order), but "plus rien" etc cannot be inverted.
Thanks to you, I've now made this point clearer.

Merci beaucoup et bonne journée !

Clarification of Lesson

I don't quite follow what the "But only" is meaning in the following text from the lesson:

You can also use any of those with ne ... plus (not anymore / not again):plus jamais / jamais plusbut ONLY plus rienplus personneplus nulle part. 

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RonC1Kwiziq community member

Could you please explain in a different way the section of this lesson starting with you can also use any of those with ne..plus? IAM totally confused

Asked 1 year ago
GruffKwiziq team member
Hi Ron - yes, I see it needs a little tidy up - we'll do that, but in fact the note has examples underneath which show each case so that should help.
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Ron,

it is actually not so bad if you memorize this order:

Je ne dirai plus jamais rien à personne. -- I will never again say something to anybody.

First plus, then jamais, then rien and lastly personne. You won't normally encounter all of them in one negation (as, e.g., in the above illustrative example). But the order remains:

Je ne dirai rien à personne. -- I won't say anything to anybody.
Je ne le dirai jamais à personne. -- I wont ever say it to anybody.
... etc. ...

Could you please explain in a different way the section of this lesson starting with you can also use any of those with ne..plus? IAM totally confused

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PaulC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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."
Asked 1 year ago
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

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.

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."

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HelenA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

I never want to go there again

Is this correct: "Je ne veux plus jamais y aller"? Or is it: Je ne veux jamais y aller plus"
Asked 1 year ago
GruffKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hi Helen, the first is correct but not the second.
You could also say, "Je ne veux jamais plus y aller" (i.e. you can put jamais before plus, unlike most other negatives which must go after it).

HelenA2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thanks a ton! I was asking an 8th grade French teacher this and we couldn't figure it out! You are most helpful.

I never want to go there again

Is this correct: "Je ne veux plus jamais y aller"? Or is it: Je ne veux jamais y aller plus"

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AndyC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Il ne me restera plus qu’à prendre mon sac.

Could you help with this sentence please? I'm genuinely confused as to whether this sentence is another example of a double negative (no longer, only) or is just a conjunctional phrase: All (that) I'll have left to do will be to grab my bag. Or is even a conjunctional phrase using double negatives!!?? Help greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
For me this sentence seems awkward. Il ne me restera qu'à prendre mon sac, should translate: all I will have left to do is take my bag. ne. . . . .que = only which is a fairly common phrase in French. From the lesson: You can also use any of those with ne ... plus (not anymore): plus jamais OR jamais plus, but ONLY plus rien, plus personne, plus nulle part.
AndyC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Yes I must say that I agree the sentence would be a lot more straight forward if 'plus' were omitted. However in the writing test in which I first saw this sentence (Week 21 - B1 I believe) it was present, which is exactly what prompted my question. I'm aware of the double negative combinations presented in the associated lesson, but unfortunately that lesson didn't offer any guideline at all on the use of ne...que with a second negative, or even if such a construction were possible. Had that information been provided I sure I wouldn't have need of further clarification. Forgive me but this question had remained unanswered for almost two months so I'd mostly given up on a response. Thank you.
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
Pas de problème ! Je ne me joins qu'il y a 4 jours et je ne fais pas partie de l’équipe du site. J'ai vu que ce qu'il y a eu un peu de questions sans une réponse. Alors. . . Bonne chance.

Il ne me restera plus qu’à prendre mon sac.

Could you help with this sentence please? I'm genuinely confused as to whether this sentence is another example of a double negative (no longer, only) or is just a conjunctional phrase: All (that) I'll have left to do will be to grab my bag. Or is even a conjunctional phrase using double negatives!!?? Help greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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JoakimC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Placement of verb

In the examples, 'dire' goes after the two negations while 'faire' and 'aller' goes before them. What's the rule here?
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
Bonjour Joakim ! Here it's not about the verbs, but about the tenses they're conjugated at. Indeed, "dire" is in Le Passé Composé, so the second part of the negation is between the auxiliary and the past participle, whereas with simple tenses, it's just after the conjugated verb. You can have a look at these related lessons: Using 'ne ... pas' with compound tenses (negation) Using ne ... pas with simple tenses (negation) I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Placement of verb

In the examples, 'dire' goes after the two negations while 'faire' and 'aller' goes before them. What's the rule here?

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JacobC1Kwiziq community member

How many negatives can you fit (grammaticaly) into a French sentence?

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Interesting question. I'm going to say four: Je n'y ai jamais plus rencontré personne avec aucun accent. I've never again met anyone there with no accent.

How many negatives can you fit (grammaticaly) into a French sentence?

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Getting that for you now.