A double negative is a statement that contains two negative describing words. For instance:
Double negative: The shopper did not have no money left over after the binge.
Correct: The shopper did not have any money left over after the binge.
The shopper had no money left over after the binge.
To avoid this grammatical faux pas, use only one negative word to express a negative idea. Here are the most frequently used negative words:
A double negative is a statement that contains two negative describing words.
Many negative words begin with n, just like no: not, nothing, never, none, nothing. Use this trick to help you remember negative words.
From the 1400s to the 1700s, it was customary to crowd as many negative words as possible into a sentence. See, you were just born too late.
Double negatives are sneaky little critters. They are especially likely to cause problems with contractions. When the word not is used in a contraction—such as isn't, doesn't, wouldn't, couldn't, don't—the negative tends to slip by. As a result, writers and speakers may add another negative.
Double negative: He didn't say nothing.
Correct: He didn't say anything.
He said nothing.
To make sure that you keep those double negatives straight, rewrite each of the following sentences to eliminate the double negative.
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Style © 2003 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.