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NEGATION


§ 24. Both structural and communicative types of sentences fall into affirmative sentences and negative sentences. A sentence is made negative by the particle not which is the most widely used negator. It is put immediately after the auxiliary or modal verb. The negator not has two forms: uncontracted and contracted. The former occurs mainly in formal English; the latter is usual in informal (conversational) English. There are two possible forms of negation contraction: one is when the operator is contracted and the negator uncontracted, and the other is when the negator is contracted but the operator is used in its full form.

Positive Negative
  Uncontracted Contracted
They’ve come. They have not come. They’ve not come. They haven’t come.
Tom is arriving tomorrow. Tom is not arriving tomorrow. Tom isn’t arriving tomorrow.   Tom’s not arriving tomorrow. (The 1st form is more common.)
You ought to have come. You ought not to have come at all. You oughtn’t to have come at all.

Note that the contracted negative forms of can and will are can’t and won’t and the uncontracted negative of can is cannot. The corresponding forms of shall are shall not and shan’t.

He will be late.   I can come early. I shall come early. He will not be late.   I cannot come early. I shall not come early He’ll not be late. He won’t be late. I can’t come early. I shan’t come early.

Only the full negative form is possible for the first person singular of the verb to be in declarative sentences, I'т not late, the form ain’t being used only in dialects and uneducated forms of English. However, the verb contraction I'т is possible.

If the predicate verb is in the presentor past indefinite, the auxiliary do is used with not to form the negative.

I like that idea. He understands you well. I do not like that idea. He does not understand you at all. I don’t like that idea. He doesn’t understand you at all.

As a rule, a sentence can contain only one negator. Not is usually , attached to the predicate verb, and other negative words are unnecessary in the sentence, unlike similar cases in Russian.




I don’t know anything about it. (one negator) I didn’t say anything to anybody. (one negator) Я ничего не знала об этом. (two negators) Я никому ничего не сказала. (three negators)

In negative questions the place of the negator not depends on whether it is contracted or uncontracted. The contracted form n’t is not separated from the auxiliary or modal verb, whereas the uncontracted not comes after the subject. The latter is more formal.

Don’t you see? Can’t you come with me? Haven’t you finished your letter? Do you not see? Can you not come with me? Have you not finished your letter?

Negative questions are often used as

a) exclamations.

Isn’t it funny! (= It is very funny!)

Aren’t* I tired! (= I am very tired)

* This is the first-person form of the verb to be in negative questions in British English.

b) invitations.

Won’t you come in and have a cup of tea?

In answer to negative questions yes and no are used according to the facts and not according to the form of the question.

Haven’t you seen the film? - Yes (I have seen it). Or: No (I haven’t seen it).

Isn’t it raining? - Yes (it is raining). Or: No (it isn’t raining).

Compare with the Russian:

Дождь не идет? - Нет, идет. - Да, не идет.

In imperative sentences not follows the do-auxiliary.

Do not speak so loudly.

Don’t worry.

The same is used for the negative imperative with the verb to be.

Don’t be so rude.

Don’t be lazy.

§ 25. Not can be attached to other parts of the sentence, not only the predicate verb. In this case it comes before the word or phrase it negates.

It’s here, not upstairs.

It’s a tiger, not a cat.

The operation was quick, but not carefully planned.

The question is important and not easy to answer.

Negative infinitives are made by putting not or never before the infinitive (and before the paricle to if there is one). Negative ing-forms are made in the same way.

It was impossible not to invite the Butlers.

He left never to return.

He was desperate at not having seen her.

§ 26. In short answers or orders with the verbs of mental activity think, believe, hope, suppose, be afraid and after the conjunction if the negator not may replace the sentence or clause it negates.

Will it rain today? - I hope not.

Can you come today? – I’m afraid not.



Drop that gun! If not, you’ll be sorry.

§ 27. After the verbs of mental activity think, believe, suppose and imagine the negation which belongs to the object clause is transferred to the principal clause. This is called transferred negation.

I don’t think you've heard about it (= I think you haven’t heard about it).

I don’t believe he has come (= I believe he hasn’t come).

I don’t suppose any one will learn about it (= I suppose no one will learn about it).

Compare with the Russian:

I don’t think you are right. - Думаю, что вы не правы.

§ 28. Besides not there are other words that can serve as negators and make the sentence negative. They are: no, nobody, nothing, nowhere, none (of) no one, and also neither (of), never and the conjunction neither... nor.

No sensible man would say that.

Nobody knows about it.

None of the applicants were German.

He has nothing to say.

He was nowhere to be found.

He never gets up early.

Neither of the statements is true.

I saw neither you nor your wife.

No is a determiner and is used with a noun when it has no other determiner (neither an article nor a possessive or demonstrative pronoun).

No is the usual negator with a noun subject after there is/are, and with a noun object after the predicate verb have.

There are no letters in the letter-box today.

I have no relatives in this city.

No can add emphasis to the sentence, implyingthe opposite of what is expressed by the word that follows.

He is no fool (= He is a clever man).

He showed no great skill (= He showed very little skill).

He had no small part in its success! (= He had a large part...)

This is no unimportant question (== It is really an important question).

She is no teacher (= She is a bad teacher).

In the same way never may add emphasis to the sentence and is often used in colloquial speech.

That will never do.

I should never have believed it.

Why did you sign those documents? - But I never did. (Я ничего не подписывал.)

Surely you never told him about it! (Ты не мог ему это сказать!)

If there is an article or a possessive or demonstrative pronoun before the noun, none of or neither of is used with the same meaning as no (see the above examples).

Neither of the books is of any use to me.

I want none of these things.

None can be used without a noun asa noun substitute.

You have money, but I have none.

Bad advice is worse than none at all.

§ 29. Besides negators there are other words that make a sentence negative in meaning. They are:



seldom, rarely... (= not often);

hardly, scarcely, barely... (= almost... not, hardly ever, scarcely ever).

As they also make the whole sentence negative they have the same effect on the sentence as other negators, that is exclude other negators.

a) The pronoun some and its derivatives are changed to any or its derivatives.

The rain continued with scarcely any pause.

He hardly thinks of anything else.

b) The adverbs sometimes and already are changed to ever and yet respectively.

Mrs. Greene hardly ever plays tennis now.

c) They are generally followed by positive, not negative, tag question.

She scarcely seems to care, does she?

Little and few have the same effect on sentences.

There’s little point in doing anything about it, is there?

§ 30. Double negatives are sometimes possible in standard English, but only if both negative words have their full meaning and this serves for the sake of emphasis.

You’ve no reason not to trust me.

Do you think Julius will try to see you? - No, he won’t. But he won’t try not to either.

She wouldn’t like to live in a place not so nice.

John hadn’t been a crime reporter for nothing.

Not only would he do nothing to advance them; he impeded them.

It’s not only not important, it’s not a fact.

In standard English double negatives, rare as they are, may neutralize each other and then the ultimate meaning of the sentence is positive.

You’ve no reason not to trust me (= You must trust me).

I just couldn’t do nothing (= I had to do something).

By removing one of the negatorsthe sentence is made negative in meaning.

I just could do nothing.







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