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. There are three types of negative markers, in English, namely: negative adverbs, negative pronouns, negative determiners.

Negative Adverbs

Negative adverbs are used to negate a verb, adjective, or another adverb. Here are the most important negative adverbs:

  • 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 usually used in the middle position. They can also be used at the beginning of a sentence, but in this case, the sentence must be inverted and new rules must be observed.

Inversion with Modals and Auxiliary Verbs

When we use a negative adverb at the beginning of a sentence with a modal or an auxiliary verb, 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 a negative adverb at the beginning of a sentence with a 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.

never is a negative marker

Warning

You cannot use 'not' as a single word at the beginning of an inverted sentence. 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.

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 sentence. The following is a list of common negative pronouns:

  • neither
  • none
  • no one
  • nobody
  • 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 suggests, are used as a pronoun; therefore, they can be subject pronouns or object pronouns. Subject pronouns are used at the beginning of the sentence and object pronouns are used after* transitive main verbs or after prepositions. Check out the examples.

Although neither was the perfect choice, I 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.

Negative Determiners

Negative determiners are placed before 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 noun and plural verb. However, it can also be used with singular nouns and verbs. For example:

Neither family is willing to share the yard.

No snakes were found on the island.

No book is in my bag. → not common

Negative Determiners: Position

Determiners are placed before nouns to modify them. 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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