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Forming Negative Sentences Correctly 
By: Sharon Mae S. Gansas
HOW? 
A negative sentence can be formed 
correctly in one of three ways. 
(Frolini,1990)
1. USING ONE NEGATIVE WORD 
The most common way to form a negative sentences is 
to use a single negative word, or put “not” after the 
first word of the verb, or contraction -n’t added to a 
helping verb. 
In speaking, we often use the short form (n't).
Single negative words 
• No 
• None 
• Nobody 
• Nothing 
• Neither 
• Nowhere 
• Never
He never listens to me. 
They had no idea what was their present. 
Nobody came to visit me while I was in hospital. 
There's nothing wrong with your cooking. 
I have nowhere else to go. 
I am not interested in getting a job abroad. 
Neither of the children seemed concerned 
about the flight. 
None of us won a ticket to Rihana’s concert.
… not after the first word of the verb 
I am not a bandit. 
They are not coming. 
It was not very cold there. 
He is not a teacher. 
He does not work on Saturdays. 
They do not sell food.
The contraction –n’t added to a helping verb. 
They aren't used to it. 
There isn't much to tell. 
Hopefully she wasn't offended. 
We weren’t prepared for the quiz. 
I don’t speak Spanish.
They didn’t know it. 
The rain hasn't stopped. 
Haven’t you seen that movie many times? 
She hadn’t studied English before she moved to New 
York. 
He won't eat much. 
She doesn’t speak English.
REMEMBER! 
Do not use two negative words in the same clause. 
Double Negatives: 
The store doesn’t accept no credit cards. 
Janet wouldn't do nothing. 
Nobody here wants no trouble. 
I don’t never go there.
2. Using BUT in Negative Sense 
When but is used as an adverb, it will often have a 
negative sense. If so, it should not be accompanied 
by another negative word. 
“But” is an adverb in the following sentences: 
He is but a child. 
I have but one friend.
“But”, as an adverb, is a synonym of the 
adverb “only”. 
Do not use but in its negative sense with another 
negative. 
DOUBLE NEGATIVE: He wasn’t but a child at the time. 
CORRECT: He was but a child at the time. 
He was only a child at the time. 
It tells us the degree of an action, an adjective or another adverb.
More examples: 
It was but one step on the road to ruin. 
He is but a dreamer. 
If you had but told me. 
We can but hope that things will improve. 
I am but too weak to brawl.
3. Using Barely, Hardly, and Scarcely with 
another negative word. 
Each of these words also makes a sentence negative.(Frolin,1990) 
Do not use barely, hardly, or scarcely with another negative 
word. 
More examples: 
Barely - She did not barely understand the instructions. 
Hardly - I hardly have no money. 
Scarcely - The news of the company’s bankruptcy made scarcely no 
impact.
DOUBLE NEGATIVE: She wasn’t barely able to tell us 
who called. 
CORRECT: She was barely able to tell us who called. 
DOUBLE NEGATIVE:I couldn’t hardly endure the 
pain. 
CORRECT:I could hardly endure the pain. 
DOUBLE NEGATIVE: He didn’t scarcely have time to 
dress. 
CORRECT: He scarcely had time to dress.
bare·ly 
—used to say that someone or something only has a 
specified small size, age, length, etc. 
—used to say that something reached a specified 
condition or happened only a short time before 
• We barely spoke the entire time we were in the car. 
• There are barely any new features in this software. 
• There is barely a difference between the two.
hard·ly 
- almost not at all 
- almost not 
- used to say that something reached a specified 
condition or happened only a short time before 
• The changes in service have hardly been noticed. 
• I can hardly believe it. 
• He could hardly speak.
scarcely 
: almost not at all 
: by only a small amount of time, space, etc. 
: certainly not 
• He could scarcely control his joy. 
• This is scarcely a time to laugh. 
• I could scarcely tell them they were wrong.
EXERCISE : Avoiding problems with Negatives. 
1. Phil never did nothing to antagonize the crew 
members. 
2. You should not drive that car nowhere without 
snow tires. 
3. Nobody knew none of the answers on the exam. 
4. I can’t find my address book nowhere. 
5. No one never saw the bear tracking us. 
6. Never mix no chlorine bleach with ammonia.
7. Norman won’t repeat nothing told him 
confidentiality. 
8. She didn’t tell anybody about her visit to the 
city. 
9. Nobody in our community never realized 
water was precious resource until there 
wasn’t enough. 
10. None of us never forgot an important date in 
our family.
• It appears to be a lot of negative words that 
can be used. The easiest way to remember the 
proper word, adverb or verb to use when 
forming a negation is chose a word that 
implies. Another trick is to think about the 
message the reader is to absorb from the 
sentence as a whole, and pick words that will 
ensure this meaning is conveyed.
References 
Forlini,G.(1990).Grammar and composition 4. South Asia:Prentice-Hall 
ESL home.(n.d.).Negative sentences. Retrieved August 27, 2014. From: 
http://www.eslau.ca/lesson/unit5.php 
Zhu, M. (Nov.18, 2001). About “but”. Retrieved August 27, 2014. From: 
http://www.undl.org/unlsys/unlman/contents/About%20but.html
QUESTIONS? 
THANK YOU!

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Forming negative sentences correctly

  • 1. Forming Negative Sentences Correctly By: Sharon Mae S. Gansas
  • 2. HOW? A negative sentence can be formed correctly in one of three ways. (Frolini,1990)
  • 3. 1. USING ONE NEGATIVE WORD The most common way to form a negative sentences is to use a single negative word, or put “not” after the first word of the verb, or contraction -n’t added to a helping verb. In speaking, we often use the short form (n't).
  • 4. Single negative words • No • None • Nobody • Nothing • Neither • Nowhere • Never
  • 5. He never listens to me. They had no idea what was their present. Nobody came to visit me while I was in hospital. There's nothing wrong with your cooking. I have nowhere else to go. I am not interested in getting a job abroad. Neither of the children seemed concerned about the flight. None of us won a ticket to Rihana’s concert.
  • 6. … not after the first word of the verb I am not a bandit. They are not coming. It was not very cold there. He is not a teacher. He does not work on Saturdays. They do not sell food.
  • 7. The contraction –n’t added to a helping verb. They aren't used to it. There isn't much to tell. Hopefully she wasn't offended. We weren’t prepared for the quiz. I don’t speak Spanish.
  • 8. They didn’t know it. The rain hasn't stopped. Haven’t you seen that movie many times? She hadn’t studied English before she moved to New York. He won't eat much. She doesn’t speak English.
  • 9. REMEMBER! Do not use two negative words in the same clause. Double Negatives: The store doesn’t accept no credit cards. Janet wouldn't do nothing. Nobody here wants no trouble. I don’t never go there.
  • 10. 2. Using BUT in Negative Sense When but is used as an adverb, it will often have a negative sense. If so, it should not be accompanied by another negative word. “But” is an adverb in the following sentences: He is but a child. I have but one friend.
  • 11. “But”, as an adverb, is a synonym of the adverb “only”. Do not use but in its negative sense with another negative. DOUBLE NEGATIVE: He wasn’t but a child at the time. CORRECT: He was but a child at the time. He was only a child at the time. It tells us the degree of an action, an adjective or another adverb.
  • 12. More examples: It was but one step on the road to ruin. He is but a dreamer. If you had but told me. We can but hope that things will improve. I am but too weak to brawl.
  • 13. 3. Using Barely, Hardly, and Scarcely with another negative word. Each of these words also makes a sentence negative.(Frolin,1990) Do not use barely, hardly, or scarcely with another negative word. More examples: Barely - She did not barely understand the instructions. Hardly - I hardly have no money. Scarcely - The news of the company’s bankruptcy made scarcely no impact.
  • 14. DOUBLE NEGATIVE: She wasn’t barely able to tell us who called. CORRECT: She was barely able to tell us who called. DOUBLE NEGATIVE:I couldn’t hardly endure the pain. CORRECT:I could hardly endure the pain. DOUBLE NEGATIVE: He didn’t scarcely have time to dress. CORRECT: He scarcely had time to dress.
  • 15. bare·ly —used to say that someone or something only has a specified small size, age, length, etc. —used to say that something reached a specified condition or happened only a short time before • We barely spoke the entire time we were in the car. • There are barely any new features in this software. • There is barely a difference between the two.
  • 16. hard·ly - almost not at all - almost not - used to say that something reached a specified condition or happened only a short time before • The changes in service have hardly been noticed. • I can hardly believe it. • He could hardly speak.
  • 17. scarcely : almost not at all : by only a small amount of time, space, etc. : certainly not • He could scarcely control his joy. • This is scarcely a time to laugh. • I could scarcely tell them they were wrong.
  • 18. EXERCISE : Avoiding problems with Negatives. 1. Phil never did nothing to antagonize the crew members. 2. You should not drive that car nowhere without snow tires. 3. Nobody knew none of the answers on the exam. 4. I can’t find my address book nowhere. 5. No one never saw the bear tracking us. 6. Never mix no chlorine bleach with ammonia.
  • 19. 7. Norman won’t repeat nothing told him confidentiality. 8. She didn’t tell anybody about her visit to the city. 9. Nobody in our community never realized water was precious resource until there wasn’t enough. 10. None of us never forgot an important date in our family.
  • 20. • It appears to be a lot of negative words that can be used. The easiest way to remember the proper word, adverb or verb to use when forming a negation is chose a word that implies. Another trick is to think about the message the reader is to absorb from the sentence as a whole, and pick words that will ensure this meaning is conveyed.
  • 21. References Forlini,G.(1990).Grammar and composition 4. South Asia:Prentice-Hall ESL home.(n.d.).Negative sentences. Retrieved August 27, 2014. From: http://www.eslau.ca/lesson/unit5.php Zhu, M. (Nov.18, 2001). About “but”. Retrieved August 27, 2014. From: http://www.undl.org/unlsys/unlman/contents/About%20but.html