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Negation

Negation

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Requirements

Negation



Hello! In this lesson, we will learn how to make negative statements in English. In all lessons to this point we have only used positive statements. To change a positive statement to a negative statement all we need to do is add the word “not”.

Let us look at a declarative statement with which you are now familiar “I am hungry.” To change this to a negative statement we add the word “not” and the sentence becomes “I am not hungry.” Simply adding the word “not” completely changes the meaning of this statement from positive to negative. Let us look at several more examples.

“Jennifer is happy.” becomes “Jennifer is not happy.”

“She is pretty.” becomes “She is not pretty.”

“David is tall.” becomes “David is not tall.”

“We are mad.” becomes “We are not mad.”


We may also use the word “not” to change a simple question from positive to negative. For example, the simple question “Are you hungry?” becomes “Are you not hungry?” Let us look at several more examples.

“Is she beautiful?” becomes “Is she not beautiful?”

“Are you full?” becomes “Are you not full?”

“Is he tired?” becomes “Is he not tired?”

“Is David sad?” becomes “Is David not sad?”

As you can see, it is very simple to change a positive statement to a negative statement by adding the word “not”.

Please note that changing the meaning from positive to negative does not necessarily change the meaning of the statement to the exact opposite.

For example, when we change “She is tall.” to “She is not tall.” we are not necessarily saying that “She is short.” for it is also possible that she is neither tall nor short, but rather somewhere between the two opposites.

Another example of this point, when we change “He is happy.” to “He is not happy .” we are not necessarily saying that “He is sad.” for it is also possible that he is neither happy nor sad, but rather somewhere between the two opposites.

Let us now look at a simple dialog which shows how negation with the word “not” is used in conversation.

Jennifer: Good morning David.

David: Hello Jennifer. How are you?

Jennifer: I am fine, thank you. How are you?

David: I am fine. Are you hungry?

Jennifer: No, I am not hungry. I am full. Are you hungry?

David: Yes, I am hungry. Are you not tired?

Jennifer: Yes, I am tired. Are you not tired?

David: No, I am not tired.



This dialog begins with the now familiar greetings we have seen many times before.

Then, Jennifer asks “Are you hungry?” to which David replies “No, I am not hungry.” The word “no” is sufficient to answer this question in the negative, but it is very common to follow this with a declarative statement to reinforce the point, in this case “I am not hungry.” The following sentence “I am full.” reinforces this point even more.

David then asks “Are you not tired?” Notice that the affirmative answer to a negative question is “Yes” followed by the affirmative declarative statement “I am tired.” This not only reinforces the answer, but also removes any possible misunderstanding arising from the structure of the negative question.

Notice that when Jennifer asks “Are you not tired?” the negative response to a negative question is “No” followed by the negative declarative statement “I am not tired.” This not only reinforces the answer, but also removes any possible misunderstanding arising from the structure of the negative question.

The manner of responding to negative questions may cause some confusion, so let us now look at some more examples. In each example, Jennifer poses a negative question. Then David first responds in the affirmative, and then in the negative.

Jennifer: Is he not tall?

David:Yes, he is tall.

Jennifer: Is he not tall?

David:No, he is not tall.


Jennifer: Is she not pretty?

David:Yes, she is pretty.

Jennifer: Is she not pretty?

David:No, she is not pretty.


Jennifer: Are we ready?

David:Yes, we are ready.

Jennifer: Are we ready?

David:No, we are not ready.


Jennifer: Are they mad?

David:Yes, they are mad!.

Jennifer: Are they mad?

David:No, they are not mad.


Great!  Now that you have learned how to use the word “not” to form simple negative sentences, it is your turn to practice speaking in English.