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Figure of Speech

Double Negative Examples

Double negative is an important figure of speech wherein two negatives unite to make one affirmative sentence. In English, two negatives are understood to resolve into a positive, which is exactly why double negation is widely used when making backhanded compliments. Bishop Robert Lowth was the first to introduce this rule into Standard English in 1762. However, today a double negative is considered as unacceptable in Standard English. Nevertheless, in certain other languages, double negatives are still favoured and used. In Ancient Greek and Modern Greek, it is used for affirmation (litotes) or emphasising the negation. In Croatian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian and Russian, double negative is deemed as grammatically correct whereas usage of a single negative is considered as faulty. Using double negative in a line is not wrong unless it gives out the right idea – whether positive or negative. Explore this list of double negative examples for a better understanding of the subject.

Examples Of Double Negative

  • She was so disappointed because she couldn’t go neither.
  • It wasn’t uninteresting.
  • I cannot say that I do not disagree with you. – A quote by Groucho Marx
  • Mr. Jones was not incompetent.
  • She is not unattractive.
  • It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone.
  • I have so much to do that I haven’t ever got time to rest.
  • Her daughters seldom ever visit her at the hospital
  • The blanket did not barely protect their shivering bodies.
  • She just merely recalled how poor they used to be.
  • I didn’t do nothing.
  • He can’t hardly wait for his present to arrive.
  • Baseball is not unlike golf – both are boring to watch without a beer in hand.
  • The pilot could not find nowhere to land.
  • I barely got no sleep last night.
  • The explorers finally discovered that the place where they landed did not have none of the treasures they wanted.
  • I don’t have no money for the movie.
  • I couldn’t barely hold my head up in class.
  • Well, I don’t never use litotes in my poems or short stories.
  • It’s not uncommon for two people to meet serendipitously.
  • He does not seek money no more than he seeks fame
  • I ain’t no idiot, I just don’t know nothing about grammar

Double Negative Examples In Litotes

  • I do not disagree.
  • She is not as young as she was.
  • He was not unfamiliar with the works of Eckhart.
  • Oh, you think you’re so special because you get to play Picture Pages up there? Well, my five year old daughter could do that and let me tell you, she’s not the brightest bulb in the tanning bed. – Allison Janney as Bren in Juno, 2007
  • I’m not doing this for my health. – O.J.Simpson
  • With a vigorous and sudden snatch, I brought my assailant harmlessly, his full length, on the not over clean ground – for we were now in the cow yard. – Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom, 1855
  • I was not a little upset for what you have done the previous day.
  • Because though no beauty by fashion-mag standards, the ample-bodied Ms. Klause, we agreed, was a not unclever, not unattractive young woman, not unpopular with her classmates both male and female. – John Barth
  • The grave’s a fine a private place, But none, I think, do there embrace. – Andrew Marvell
  • Delhi is no ordinary city to visit. Visit the place when you want a long vacation.
  • She is not unkind.
  • “He is neither unthinking, nor unseeing.” – Homer

Double Negative Examples For Kids

  • Teena did not find the key neither on nor under the mat.
  • He did not mention neither the flooding nor the landslide.
  • There aren’t no apples in the refrigerator.
  • Dad can’t hardly hear me from my room.
  • Tommy hasn’t done nothing today.
  • Grandma didn’t have no chocolate yesterday.
  • Rover won’t bite nobody.
  • I am sure she hasn’t no books for us.
  • Carlos didn’t see nobody around.
  • Can’t you find no milk?
  • It wasn’t hardly midnight when we saw the moon.
  • In the beginning, they weren’t hardly surprised.
  • Didn’t you notice that there was no oil in the car.
  • The boys haven’t any clothing to wear.
  • Arizona had scarcely no rain last summer.

Double Negative Examples In Literature

  • By innocence I swear, And by my youth I have one heart, one bosom and one truth, And that no woman has; nor never none Shall mistress be of it, save I alone. – Double Negative in The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, The Friar’s Portrait
  • Curte is he was and lowely of servyse. Thernas no man nowher so vertuous (Courteous he was and lovely of service. There was no man nowhere so virtuous
  • The Knight’s Portrait by Shakespeare: He nevere yet no vileynye ne sayde In al his lyf unto no manerwight – it means he never yet said no rude thing in all his life to nobody.
  • Right down on the ground his stick he throwed. And he shivered and said, “Well, I am blowed.” And he turned away, with a heart full sore, And he never was seen not none no more. – Robert J. Burdette, “Romance of the Carpet”

Conclusion 

Negative words like no, not, isn’t, aren’t, ain’t, barely, scarcely, none, nobody, no one, hardly, nothing, nowhere, neither, never are used for construction of statements with double negatives. It is not exactly followed in schools or while teaching, but just used to teach it as a form of grammar. Double negatives are used especially in ‘litotes’ – a figure of speech wherein an positive sense is conveyed by contradicting its opposite. Differentiating litotes from the double negatives can be made easy with the correct utilisation of contexts.

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