Avoid Double Negatives

A double negative uses two or more negative words in the same sentence. Using two negatives turns the thought or sentence into positive one. Double negative sentences are not encouraged because they can be confusing and indicate poor grammar.

The sentence, “She never goes with nobody” could be interpreted as “She goes with everybody”.

Double negatives should be avoided as they otherwise would alter the writer’s intended meaning. Use only one negative form in each sentence to make the statement negative.

Incorrect: He can’t find his files nowhere.
Correct: He can’t find his files anywhere.

Incorrect: I don’t want nothing to eat.
Correct: I don’t want to eat anything.

Incorrect: John never has no time to relax no more.
Correct: John has no time to relax any more.

Other negative words that should not be paired up with additional negative words include: no, not, nothing, barely, scarcely, neither, none, no one, and hardly.

Incorrect: She scarcely had no tickets left for the show.
Correct: She scarcely had any tickets left for the show.

Incorrect: I never saw no one I thought prettier.
Correct: I never saw anyone I thought prettier.

Incorrect: He was so weak he couldn’t hardly sit up.
Correct: He was so weak he could hardly sit up.

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