Negation: Nouns & Pronouns

In this lesson, we will learn about negative structures with nouns and pronouns. Do we have negative pronouns? How can we make a negative noun?

Intermediate
Negation of Nouns and Pronouns in the English Grammar

What Are Negative Nouns?

There are some words that can negate a noun or sometimes there are some nouns that can negate a sentence. In this lesson, you will learn all the structures.

Negation with 'No'

'No' and 'none of' are determiners. We use them directly before nouns. They indicate negation. Have a look:

There were no books left in the library about myths.

There's no butter left.

In signs and notices, 'no' usually comes before gerunds to show that something is not allowed.

No smoking.

No fishing.

Negation with None of

Just like 'no,' 'none of' acts like a determiner, too. it comes before 'the,' demonstratives 'this,' 'that,' 'possessives' or 'pronouns.' When we use 'none of' in the sentence, we should not use a negative verb.

None of my friends came to my sweet 16 party.

Don't believe what they're saying. None of it is true.

Warning

Do not use 'none' directly before nouns. Either use 'none' alone (as a pronoun) or use 'none of' + noun.

No students in her class passed the test. (None of the students in her class...)

Do not say: None students in her class...

Negative Pronouns

Some indefinite pronouns (those created by the prefix 'no-') have the power to make a sentence negative. They do not need a negative verb. The most common ones are:

No one likes being criticized.

Nowhere is overpopulation a more serious issue than in China.

No or Not Any?

'No' and 'not any' have almost the same meaning.
'No' is used with the verb in affirmative form and 'any' is used with the verb in negative form.

There's no reason to be upset. = There isn't any reason to be upset.

There are no oranges in the refrigerator. = There aren't any oranges in the refrigerator.

negation with the word 'no'

Tip

'No' plus noun is more formal and makes the negative stronger. In spoken English, 'no' is often pronounced with stress.

No or Not a/an?

With nouns that have ungradable meanings, you should not use no + noun.
By 'ungradable meaning,' we mean nouns that are either something or another. They don't have a comparative meaning.

A carrot is not a fruit.

Do not say: A carrot is no fruit.

With nouns that have gradable meanings, you can use both 'no' or 'not.' They mean the same.

Mike is no idiot. He's actually a genius. = Mike is not an idiot. He's actually a genius.

'Idiot' is gradable. Someone can be more of an idiot than someone else.

Answering a Question with 'No'

We often use 'no' to answer to a yes-no question, or to agree with a negative statement. Do not use 'not' in this way.

A : Are you going out?

B : No. (Do not say: Not.)

Common Expressions with No

We use 'no' in some common fixed expressions such as:

  1. no way
  2. no chance
  3. no good
  4. no idea
  5. no problem

'Can you help me carry this bag?' 'No problem.'

'Do you think she'll agree?' 'No way.'

Review

There are two ways to make a sentence negative. One is to add not to the verb and the other is to add some terms to the noun or pronoun that imply negative meaning and therefore negate the whole sentence.

The terms are:

No:

No oil is left in the pan.

None of:

None of his friends answered his letters.

Nobody:

Nobody likes living alone in a small cottage like this.

No one:

No one had the permission to leave the class.

None:

"How many shots have you had?" "I had none."

Nothing:

Nothing would make me happy at the moment.

Nowhere:

They had nowhere to go when their house was burnt down.

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