Avoid Using Double Negatives

Using words which makes sentences negative

by | Jul 25, 2019 | Grammar

In standard English, only one negative word is enough per sentence, so you must not use two negative words in the same sentence.

Although it may be OK to use double negatives in the colloquial English (i.e. everyday or street language people use when talking informally to their friends), if you use double negatives in a formal standard context, especially in an English test like IELTS, it is considered incorrect!

Negative Forms

These words are negative in English:

  • not
  • no
  • never
  • nobody
  • nothing
  • nowhere
  • neither
  • nor

Compare The Following Examples

Don’t say:  I don’t know nothing.
Say:  I don’t know anything.  Or (I know nothing.)

Don’t say:  I don’t need  nobody.
Say:  I don’t need anybody.  Or (I need nobody.)

Don’t say:  I’m not going nowhere.
Say:  I’m not going anywhere. Or (I’m going nowhere.)

Don’t say:  I don’t have no money.
Say:  I don’t have any money. Or (I have no money.)

Don’t say:  I don’t neither.
Say:  I don’t either. Or (Neither do I.)

Don’t say:  The keys weren’t neither in my pockets nor in the car.
Say:  The keys were neither in my pockets nor in the car.

About the Author

About the Author

CEO and Co-founder of Juice Academy

Mehdi Safavi is a Cambridge certified English teacher (CELTA Grade A), IDP-trained IELTS expert, Sussex Downs College TESOL with 17+ years of teaching & teacher training experience. More about him →


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