Negation for intermediate learners

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 Is Negation?

When we want to change different structures to negative, we negate them using special words or particles. We will learn all about it in this lesson.

Negative Markers

In order to negate clauses and sentences, first, we must learn about the negative markers. We have three groups of negative markers as follows:

Now, let us see how each group functions:


The most commonly-used negative pronouns are nobody, none, nothing, nowhere, neither, etc. Take a look at the following examples to see how we use them in sentences:

None of it matters right now.

Nothing hurts more than a betrayal by your close friend.

Nobody is in the class professor.


Please note that we use these negative markers in affirmative sentences. Take a look at the following example:

Nobody is at home at this hour.

(Not Nobody isn't...)


The second group of negative markers is adverbs. We have some adverbs that are used to negate the meaning of sentences. The most common negative adverb is 'not'. However, there are others such as 'hardly', 'scarcely', 'never', etc. Let us examine some of them in the examples below:

Hardly has she listened to what I say.

I never drink tea.

My colleague seldom attends seminars.


The first thing to consider when using negative adverbs is that they are also used with affirmative verbs. The second important point to remember is that when they are used at the beginning of the sentence, the place of the subject and the verb change. Analyze the following example:

Barely had I come to a clear conclusion.

(Not Barely I had...)

Now, let us see how we can use some of them with different clauses:

Negative Auxiliary Verbs

We can simply negate auxiliary verbs by adding 'not' to the verb. Study the following examples:

She is wearing those clothes. → She isn't wearing those clothes.

They are coming to kill me. → They aren't coming to kill me.

As you can see, the main verb is not affected.

Negative Interrogative Clauses

In order to negate questions, all you have to do is to either negate the auxiliary verb or use a negative marker. Take a look at the following examples:

Don't you see we're in the middle of a crisis?

Nobody has ever been to that play?

Here, because there is a negative marker in the question, the verb is affirmative.

Negative Nouns

We can also use the negative marker 'no' to negate nouns. Look at the following examples:

There are no boys in the classroom.

No killing innocent people anymore.


It might come in handy to know that we can also negate imperative sentences. Study the following examples:

Stop this! → Don't stop this.

Open the window. → Don't open the window.


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Negation: Verbs & Clauses

Negation is the process that turns an affirmative statement into a negative one. In this lesson, we will learn about ways of creating negative sentences.

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?

Negation: Adverbs

In this lesson, we will learn about negative structures with adverbs. Do we have negative adverbs?

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