Double Negatives

As an avowed optimist, I always prefer a positive to a double negative.

I feel good.  (positive)
I don’t feel bad. (double negative)

In some languages double negatives cancel each other out to make a positive, and in other languages the double negative is used
for emphasis.

Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges! (Blazing Saddles movie)
No tengo nadie. (Spanish for: I ain’t got nobody.) (Santana song)

In English, we don’t use what is called “negative concord” like Spanish and French do, where they run the negative throughout the sentence. We use only one negative per sentence. See how the one negative moves along this sentence, while the other three positions are positive.

I haven’t ever taken anything from anyone.
I have never taken anything from anyone.
I have taken nothing from anyone.
I have taken things from nobody.

If you used all four negatives, you wouldn’t know if I was a  thief or not because you’d be so confused.

Bad Example:
I haven’t never taken nothing from nobody.

OK, so what does the following sentence mean?

I do not disagree.

That must mean that you agree.

How about this sentence?

I couldn’t disagree more.

If you change the two negatives to a positive, you would end up with “I could agree more,” but that’s not what the author meant. The author is disagreeing in a superlative way. So say that.

I disagree completely.

Many times using a double negative makes you sound uneducated.

We don’t need no education. (Pink Floyd song)

Hence, if you want to be clear and sound educated, like most business writers do, avoid double negatives. Be positive!

Profound Quote of the Day:
“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.”
Benjamin Franklin, American statesman, scientist and publisher, 1706-1790


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