Negative Markers

Negative markers are used to make sentences with a negative meaning. In this lesson, we will learn about them.

What Are Negative Markers in English?

What Are Negative Markers?

Negative markers are terms and words with different parts of speech that are used to negate the meaning of an affirmative sentence. Negative markers are categorized into three groups, in English.

What Are Negative Adverbs?

Negative adverbs are terms that are used to negate a verb, adjective, or other adverbs. Here are the most important negative adverbs on the list.

  • not
  • no
  • hardly
  • barely
  • scarcely
  • never
  • hardly ever
  • seldom

Here are a few examples.

I have never cheated on you.

I can barely hear you.

You are not my type.

Negative Adverbs Position

Negative adverbs are used in the middle position most of the time. Although it is really common for adverbs to be used at the beginning of a sentence, but when we use inversion new rules are set.

Inversion with Modals and Auxiliary Verbs

When we use a negative adverb at the beginning of a sentence with modal or auxiliary verbs, we should change the place of the modal or auxiliary verb and the subject. Here are the examples.

I had barely talked to him. → Barely had I talked to him.

I should never drink it. → Never should I drink it.

Inversion with a Main Verb

When we use an adverb at the beginning of a sentence with the main verb, we have to use the verbs (do, does, did) before the subject. Check out the examples to help you learn them better.

He never won the cup. → Never did he win the cup.

The princess hardly kisses the frog. → Hardly does the princess kiss the frog.

Only If and Only When

After only if or only when there is always a subordinating clause which you can never use inversion in it but you have to use inversion with the main verb, modal verb, or auxiliary verb of the sentence. Here are the examples.

I can be happy only if you are around. → Only if you are around can I be happy.

In this example, 'you are around' is a subordinating clause which is not changed.

I get angry only when he is mean to me. → Only when he is mean to me do I get angry.

Warning

You cannot use 'not' as a single word at the beginning of the sentence with an inversion. Here are a few examples.

Not always is he evil. → Not is he evil.

Not often do we meet each other. → Not do we meet each other.

What Are Negative Pronouns?

Negative pronouns are used with affirmative verbs to make a negative statement. Negative pronouns are used as the subject or object of the sentences. Here are the negative pronouns on the list.

  • neither
  • none
  • no one
  • no body
  • nothing

Here are the examples.

Nothing is changed.

I can give you none.

Tip!

All these negative pronouns are used with a singular verb.

None is left.

No one was there.

Negative Pronouns Position

Negative pronouns as their name requires are used as a pronoun, therefore they can be a subject pronoun or an object pronoun. Subject pronoun is used at the beginning of a sentence and object pronoun is used after transitive main verbs or prepositions*. Check out the examples.

Although, neither was the best choice I have picked the red one.

Here the pronoun 'neither' is a negative subject pronoun.

He dared nobody but himself to shoot the police.

Here the 'nobody' is an object pronoun.

What Are Negative Determiners?

Negative determiners are placed between nouns to imply a negative meaning. Here are the most important negative determiners.

  • no
  • neither

Check out a few examples.

Neither parent came to visit their son.

No room is booked here.

Tip!

Neither is used with a singular verb, but no is usually followed by a plural verb and noun. However, it can also be used with singular nouns and verbs.

Neither family is willing to share the yard.

No snakes were found in island.

No book is in my bag. → not common

Negative Determiners Position

Determiners are placed before nouns, so, using them is really easy. Here are the examples.

I could say neither boy was going to win the prize.

I had no choice.

Double Negation

With negative markers, we have to use affirmative verbs to avoid double negation. For example:

No one is happy. → Not ''No one is not happy.''

Neither student studied history. → Not "Neither student did not study history."

Review

There are a few negative markers in English. They can negate affirmative sentences. Here are different kinds of negative markers. Remember not to use a negative verb with negative markers to avoid double negation.

  • negative adverbs
  • negative pronouns
  • negative determiners

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