A double negative occurs when two negative words referring to the same idea are placed in the same sentence. This is an error that should be avoided at all times.
Using double negatives send the wrong message. Like in Mathematics two negatives make a positive, therefore a sentence that contains two negatives is saying the opposite of what is intended. That is the sentence becomes positive.
The following are some examples of negative words and verbs: no, not, none, no-one, never, nowhere, nobody, do not/don't, will not/won't, did not/didn't, should not/shouldn't, would not/wouldn't, could not/couldn't, was not, wasn't, is not/isn't, were not/weren't. These words are also negative - barely, scarcely, and hardly.
For example: (Wrong) I don't know nothing. (contains two negatives - don't, nothing)
(Right) I know nothing. (contains one negative - nothing)
(Right) I don't know anything. (contains one negative - don't)
Complete the following exercise by making the necessary changes to the following sentences. Each sentence can be changed in at least two ways.
- I have tried going with him, but I can't hardly keep up.
- The pipe did not run no water.
- She does not have no friends.
- Michael did not have none of the books that I wanted.
- The pilot could not find nowhere to land his plane.
- Steven never does nothing to help his brother.
- Grandma does not go nowhere when it is raining.
- Harry did not know nobody at the party.
- I don't have no idea about where Sharon went.
- Angella has not done no homework.
- Thomas never gets no credit for his hardwork.