Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Education & ReferenceWords & Wordplay · 4 weeks ago

Double negatives in a sentence?

Here are two sentences

1. They don't know nothing. 

2. They don't know anything. 

What's the difference between the two? 

Update:

3. They know nothing. 

What's the difference in all these three sentences? 

12 Answers

Relevance
  • 4 weeks ago
    Favorite Answer

    [2] and [3] are different ways of saying the same thing.

    [1], commonly used by semi-literate people or people deliberately using slang, is usually MEANT as "They don't know anything", but it's wrong when used that way.

    However we CAN use "They don't know nothing" as an emphatic way of denying a contrary statement.

    A: Don't listen to those people; they know nothing.

    B: That's not true. They DON'T know nothing; they really know quite a lot!

    But in this sense you really do have to stress the "don't" part to make it clear you're using the phrase literally.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 3 weeks ago

    Double negatives are two negative words used in the same sentence. Using two negatives usually turns the thought or sentence into a positive one. Double negatives are generally discouraged in English because they are considered to be poor grammar and they can be confusing.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 4 weeks ago

    1. is ungrammatical, and just plain wrong.

    2. and 3. have the same meaning. However, 3. is a bit more emphatic.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 4 weeks ago

    If there are double negatives in a sentence, they cancel each other out and turns positive. They don't know nothing means they know something(or anything). They don't know anything and they don't know anything means the same thing.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • geezer
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    ''They don't know nothing'' means that ''they know something'' (double negative).

    The other two just mean what they say .. and they mean the same thing.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    4 weeks ago

    2 and 3 are single negatives. They mean just what they say

    1 is a double negative which make is a positive: They must know something.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 4 weeks ago

    bad English vs proper English {and #1 is a double negative which technically (like in math) is a positive, but in this world both sentences mean the same thing.}

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    4 weeks ago

    When there is a sense of negative description, no negative word is essential, therefore the second sentence is fine showing negative positive combination.

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • 4 weeks ago

    All three would be understood as meaning the same thing. The first is considered grammatically incorrect. It would cause some listeners to think that the speaker is uneducated.  It would be more common in some dialect areas than others.

    Yes, students are taught in the US that double negatives are wrong because they make a positive. But no native speaker would interpret the first sentences as meaning that "they know something." Someone once said, "You don't necessarily need grammar to be understood. You do need grammar to be respected." 

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
  • Double negatives in English make a positive.  "They don't know nothing." means "They do know something."

    • Commenter avatarLogin to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.