Double negatives are two negative words used in the same sentence. Using two negatives turns the thought or sentence into a positive one. Double negatives are not encouraged in English because they are poor grammar and they can be confusing; but, they are sometimes used in song lyrics and informal speech.
Double Negative Examples
- That won't do you no good.
- I ain't got no time for supper.
- Nobody with any sense isn't going.
- I can't find my keys nowhere.
- She never goes with nobody.
- John says he has not seen neither Alice or Susan all day.
- You can't see no one in this crowd.
- There aren't no presents left to open.
- The secret cave did not have none of the treasures they wanted.
- All the witnesses claimed that didn't see nothing.
- The pilot can't find no place to land.
- He did not mention neither the deposit nor the rate.
- There is no way you can do nothing about this.
- He doesn't have nothing but the clothes on his back.
- We haven't never seen a tornado that big.
- It ain't right to not paint the house.
- You shouldn't do nothing to the house.
- The hospital won't allow no more visitors.
- I don't have nobody to mow my lawn.
- That attitude won't get you nowhere.
- After the nose job, she didn't want no one to see her.
- The star couldn't sing no more after the matinee performance.
Double Negatives Using Prefixes
Sometimes a negative can be formed by attaching the prefixes ir-, in-, non- and un-. Here are some examples:
- The evidence is certainly not irrefutable.
- This gem is not uncommon.
- The results are not inconclusive.
- His rebuttal was clearly not nonsensical.
- The price of the car is not insignificant.
- It is not unnecessary to tell the truth all the time.
- The new disease wasn't non-infectious.
- He wasn't irresponsible about his duties.
Double Negatives with Negative Words
You can create a double negative by using a negative word with a word that acts like a negative. Here are some examples:
- Barely - I can't barely see where I am going in this fog.
- Barely - She did not barely understand the instructions.
- Hardly - I hardly have no money.
- Hardly - It wasn't hardly midnight when we saw the meteor shower.
- Rarely - He is not rarely a visitor at the park.
- Rarely - Tom wasn't rarely present at openings.
- Scarcely - The news of the company's bankruptcy made scarcely no impact.
- Scarcely - The Southeast had scarcely no rain last year.
- Seldom - We don't watch movies seldom.
- Seldom - Tom doesn't go there seldom since his bad experience.
Double Negatives in Song Lyrics
- I can't get no satisfaction - The Rolling Stones
- I wasn't looking for nobody when you looked my way - Rihanna
- We don't need no education - Pink Floyd
- I can't get no sleep - Faithless
- Got nothing to hide no more - Backstreet Boys
- There ain't no rest for the wicked - Cage the Elephant
- And there ain't nothin' in this world for free - Cage the Elephant
- My forbidden lover, I don't want no other - Chic
- Ain't no mountain high enough - Marvin Gaye
- Never wanted nothing more - Kenny Chesney
To see more double negatives, check out Double Negative Trouble.