Negation

Negation is the act of making a term, phrase, or clause negative or opposite. In this article, you will learn how to make negations.

What Is Negation in English Grammar?

What Does Negation Mean?

Negation is to negate a word a sentence or a clause by using special words, or particles.

How to Negate Clauses?

To negate different types of clauses we use negative markers. Negative markers are words that are used in particular structures and they make the clauses negative. Here are different types of negative markers:

Negation in Adverbs

There are some adverbs in English that carry a negative meaning and using them in affirmative sentences makes the whole sentence negative and there is no need to use negative verbs anymore. The most important adverb that is used as a negative marker is 'not'. Other negative adverbs are hardly, little, never, only, scarcely, and seldom.

Hardly she speaks to me.

In this example, it means almost never.

I do not like him anymore.

There's hardly any milk.

I hardly know him.

Warning

Usually, when these adverbs are used at the beginning of a sentence they make an inversion between the subject and the verb, but this does not always happen, only when there is an auxiliary in a sentence there is an inversion as well. Check out the examples:

Never have I experienced this before.

Negative Determiners

The term 'no' is used as a determiner and also as a negative marker in affirmative sentences. The term 'no' can be used with either countable or uncountable nouns, but usually when it comes to countable nouns, 'no' is followed by plural countable nouns. Here are the examples:

No butter is added to the bread.

I received no mails.

Negative Pronouns

Negative pronouns are words such as nobody, no one, none, neither, nor, etc, that are used with negative meaning as negative markers in affirmative sentences. Here are the examples:

Nobody likes the teacher.

Nothing is more important than you.

Negations

By using negative markers we can negate different types of clauses. Here are the most important clauses:

  • indicative clauses
  • subjunctive clauses
  • interrogative clauses
  • imperative clauses
  • non-finite clauses

Indicative Clauses

To negate an indicative clause you can use negative determiners, pronouns, or adverbs. However, there is a special rule for the negative marker 'not' to negate the clauses. Check out the examples then take a look at the table below:

No books were on the table. → negative determiner

No one is allowed to drink tonight. → negative pronoun

You never talked about your parents. → negative adverb

negative indicative clauses
with negative pronouns
with negative adverbs
with negative determiners

Negative Auxiliary Verbs with the Adverb 'Not'

To negate auxiliary verbs all you have to do is to add the term 'not' to the auxiliary verb. Let us take a look at the examples:

I am not afraid of you.

I promise, I won't let you down.

Negative Main Verbs with the Adverb 'Not'

The term 'not' cannot be added to main verbs. As a result, you need an auxiliary verb to add 'not' to it which are usually be the auxiliary verbs do, does, did. Other auxiliary verbs such as 'have' can also be used when it comes to perfect or progressive aspects.

She has not cooked dinner yet.

Subjunctive Clauses

To express wishes or ideas in English, subjunctive mood is used and there are different structures to make negative clauses using them.

Verbs of Uncertainty

Verbs such as 'think,' 'believe,' 'suppose', etc. which imply a feeling of uncertainty are usually used negatively and the sentence after them is usually an affirmative sentence. Check out the examples:

I don't think she is happy. → (Not 'I think she isn't happy.')

He never believed I've left him. → (Not 'He believed I have never left him.')

With the Verbs 'Wish' and 'Hope'

The verbs 'hope' and 'wish' are not usually negated and instead, the sentence after them is usually in negative form, but not always. Sometimes both sentences can be affirmative. Check out the examples:

I wish, Harry does not get in trouble.

I hope no one gets hurt.

I hope I will pass the exam.

In this example, both statements are used affirmatively.

negative subjunctive clauses
with negative pronouns
with negative adverbs
with negative determiner

Negative Interrogative Clauses

To make negative questions all you have to do is to negate the auxiliary verb of the question. You can also use negative pronouns or adverbs in echo questions as a negative interrogative clause. Here are the examples:

No one is here?

Weren't you at the party?

Why didn't you call me?

negative interrogative clauses
with negative pronouns
with negative adverbs
with negative determiner

Negative Non-finite Clauses

To negate non-finite clauses all you have to do is to add 'not' before the non-finite clause or you can also use an adverb before non-finite clauses. Using negative pronouns or determiners is also possible to make a negative non-finite clause. Check out the sentences:

Not to disturb you, but who is coming again?

Hardly cooked well, the steak was immediately taken back to the kitchen.

Making no excuse, he left the apartment.

In this example, a negative determiner is used to negate the non-finite clause.

negative non-finite clauses
with negative pronouns
with negative adverbs
with negative determiner

Negative Imperatives

Imperatives are kind of non-finite clauses because they are made of bare infinitives. To negate imperatives all you have to do is to add the phrase 'do not' (also contracted as don't) at the beginning of the imperative sentence, or you can also use never as a negative marker for imperative sentences. Remember using negative pronouns to make negative imperatives is not correct. Here are the examples:

Not making a single noise, he entered the room.

Never cheat on your spouse.

No smoking!

Don't drive fast.

negative imperative clauses
with negative pronouns
with negative adverbs
with negative determiner

Non-standard English

'Ain’t' is the negative form of the verb to be in the present form and also it is the negative form of the verb to have as well. Check out the examples:

I ain't in love with you. → I am not in love with you.

She ain't trying enough. → I isn't trying enough.

When we use a negative marker with another one in the same sentence or when we use a negative marker with a negative verb a double negation is created. Sometimes in everyday English native speakers use double negations, but it is not grammatically correct. Check out the examples:

✗ I won't never talk to him again. → ✓ I will never talk to him again.

✗ I don't see nobody. → ✓ I see nobody.

Review

Negation is the act of negating a sentence, using negative markers or negative structures. Here are the important negative categories.

Negative Markers

  • negative adverbs
  • negative pronouns
  • negative determiner

Negative Clauses

  • indicative
  • imperatives
  • subjunctives
  • interrogative
  • non-finite

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