Negation

Negation: Definition, Rules & Examples

Negation, as maintained by the likes of Merriam Webster refers to

“the action or logical operation of negating or making negative”.

In simpler terms, negation defines the polar opposition of affirmative, denies the existence or vaguely – a refutation. This is also known as “Not”. Classical logic resembles negation with truth function which takes truth to falsity and is perfectly capable of running the opposite operation. It denies the truth of a sentence. It’s just the conversion of the affirmative sentence which converts the simple affirmative sentence into negative.

Example

  • I like to sing = I do not like to sing.

Definition of Negation:

When it is necessary to state that a fact is not true, it can be done by using any negative words, phrases or clauses. Negation refers to these negative words, phrases or clauses.

Examples of Negation:

  • Rick is not here.
  • Peter has no books.
  • Sam has never been there.
  • John did nothing for this project.
  • Neither I nor you attended the program.
  • None of us liked the movie.
  • Pam has rarely cooked any food.
  • Richard is buying unnecessary things.
  • Rock is not sure about it.
  • Patrick has no knowledge about it.
  • I have nothing to say.
  • Why are you so careless?
  • Nobody was in the classroom.
  • I found the book
  • Alice rarely sings a song.
  • Bob roughly has any idea about it.
  • Jim is not
  • Harry is not
  • Nobody liked the picture.
  • Neither Jack nor Robin was in the party.

Rules of Negation:

By changing the auxiliary verb of the sentence into negative, we can apply Negation in a sentence.

1. Negation in tense

1.       Present Indefinite TenseDo = do not/ don’t, does = does not/doesn’t.
2.       Present Continuous TenseAm = am not, is = is not/isn’t, are = are not, aren’t.
3.       Present Perfect TenseHave = have not/haven’t, has = has not/hasn’t
4.       Present Perfect Continuous tenseHas been = has not been, have been = have not been
5.       Past Indefinite tense Did = did not/didn’t
6.       Past Continuous tenseWas = was not/wasn’t, were = were not/ weren’t
7.       Past Perfect TenseHad = had not/hadn’t
8.       Past Perfect Continuous TenseHad been = had not been/hadn’t been
9.       Future Indefinite TenseShall = shall not, will = will not/won’t
10.   Future Continuous tenseShall be = shall not be, will be = will not/won’t
11.   Future Perfect TenseShall have = shall not have, will have = will not have/won’t have
12.   Future Perfect Continuous TenseShall have been = shall not have been,will have been = will not have been/won’t have been

Examples:

  • He drives the car = He does not drive the car
  • Alex ate rice = Alex did not eat rice

2. Negation in Modal-auxiliary

ModalModal in negativeModalModal in negative
CanCan not/ can’tShallShall not
CouldCould not/ couldn’tShouldShould not/shouldn’t
MayMay notWillWill not/won’t
MightMight not/mightn’twouldWould not/wouldn’t
MustMust not/mustn’tOught toOught not to
NeedNeed not/needn’t  

Examples:

  • Edward can swim= Edward cannot swim
  • We must go there= We must not go there

3. Negation in Words

Some words such as ever, anybody, anyone, anything, anywhere, instead of never, nobody, no one, nothing, nowhere, etc. represent the Negation.

Examples:

  • I do not think he can ever reach within time.

More Examples

Suffixes are also used for negation such as less.

Examples of Negation Adding Suffixes:

  • Jim is so careless that he will not do anything.
  • John won’t listen to you because he is so fearless.
  • The food was so tasteless.
  • We should help the homeless people.
  • Alice was feeling so hopeless.
  • There was no one there to help Jack and he was feeling very helpless.
  • Throw away the pot because it’s bottomless.
  • We are doubtless about her performance.
  • Rick has endless stories to tell.
  • We are thinking of discarding the useless things.
  • Bill is so restless that he cannot stay long anywhere.
  • Have patience! Stop being restless!
  • We cannot forgive such a careless behavior.
  • Peter is very reckless.
  • We worried about Allen’s reckless driving.
  • How can we eat such tasteless food?
  • We aware of Bob’s restless nature.
  • Why have you become so hopeless?
  • Don’t feel so helpless.
  • The printer is getting out of order every now and then; it has become useless.


The following negative adjectives or adverbs are also used for negation:

Little, few, a little, a few, hardly, barely, scarcely, roughly, rarely, seldom etc.

Examples of Negation Using Negative Adjectives & Adverbs:

  • John had little hope of success in this project.
  • Few people will support you.
  • Robin was a little tired.
  • A few of the people were happy.
  • I have hardly seen John working so hard.
  • Barely we had reached the theatre when it started to rain.
  • Scarcely Jack had finished the speech when everyone started clapping.
  • We have roughly seen Tom attending any class.
  • We have rarely seen any singer like Richard.
  • Robin seldom comes here.
  • Bob is little stubborn.
  • Suzan is a little scared.
  • I have found few places like this.
  • There are few people like you.
  • Rick has hardly done any work.
  • Aric had rarely sung any song.
  • Alice had roughly attended any program.
  • Albert is a little exhausted.
  • Anna has a little courage to do it.
  • Allen had roughly read any of the books.


We use the following negative words for negation:

No, not, nothing, never, no one, none, nobody, nowhere, neither, neither….nor, not either, none of, not any etc.

Examples of Negation Using Negative Words:

  • Robin has no relatives here.
  • Jack is not right.
  • Bill has nothing to say.
  • I have never seen this case.
  • There was no one in the field.
  • None can hide the truth.
  • Nobody asked me anything about Bob.
  • John found the pen nowhere.
  • My mom doesn’t like this movie, neither do I.
  • Neither I nor my brother attended the party.
  • My friend did not taste the pudding, I didn’t either.
  • None of us liked the program.
  • Not any of the apples were fresh.
  • Ben has no problem with this decision.
  • Bob was not looking okay.
  • Alice has nothing to do.
  • No one supported Jeff.
  • Never do anything against humanity.
  • Richard found nothing in the right place.
  • None of the students were happy to hear it.

Double Negative

Double negative on the other hand, simply defines the existence of two forms of negation in the same sentence. Please, notice that a double negative can often result in an affirmation in the English language (e.g., He hardly stops for small-talks). The rhetorical term for such a phenomenon is ‘litotes’.

Example:

  • I can not find him nowhere.

Uses of Double Negative

Double Negative can be used in two ways. They are:

1. Using negative words

such as never, nobody, anyone, nothing, nowhere, etc

Example:

  • He cannot go nowhere without informing me

2. Using prefix

Such as ir, un, non, pre, anti, il, im, etc.

Example:

  • John is not uncontrollable by his family member though he is a special child.

More examples of negation of using prefix

In modern English, Double Negatives are highly avoidable as it is grammatically wrong. We know we cannot use more than one negative word in a statement. It usually used in informal conversation or speech and in songs’ lyrics as well. To form a correct sentence, we must avoid using a double negative in a single sentence formally.

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