Negation: Definition, Rules & Examples

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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.

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 Tense Do = do not/ don’t, does = does not/doesn’t.
2.        Present Continuous Tense Am = am not, is = is not/isn’t, are = are not, aren’t.
3.        Present Perfect Tense Have = have not/haven’t, has = has not/hasn’t
4.        Present Perfect Continuous tense Has been = has not been, have been = have not been
5.         Past Indefinite tense  Did = did not/didn’t
6.        Past Continuous tense Was = was not/wasn’t, were = were not/ weren’t
7.        Past Perfect Tense Had = had not/hadn’t
8.        Past Perfect Continuous Tense Had been = had not been/hadn’t been
9.        Future Indefinite Tense Shall = shall not, will = will not/won’t
10.    Future Continuous tense Shall be = shall not be, will be = will not/won’t
11.    Future Perfect Tense Shall have = shall not have, will have = will not have/won’t have
12.    Future Perfect Continuous Tense Shall 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

Modal Modal in negative Modal Modal in negative
Can Can not/ can’t Shall Shall not
Could Could not/ couldn’t Should Should not/shouldn’t
May May not Will Will not/won’t
Might Might not/mightn’t would Would not/wouldn’t
Must Must not/mustn’t Ought to Ought not to
Need Need 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.

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.

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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